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South Africa’s new president replaces finance minister

UPDATED: Mon., Feb. 26, 2018

In this Friday, Feb. 16, 2018 file photo, South Africa's new President, Cyril Ramaphosa, delivers his State of the Nation address in parliament in Cape Town, South Africa. (Ruvan Boshoff / Associated Press)
In this Friday, Feb. 16, 2018 file photo, South Africa's new President, Cyril Ramaphosa, delivers his State of the Nation address in parliament in Cape Town, South Africa. (Ruvan Boshoff / Associated Press)
By Cara Anna and Christopher Torchia Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, announced a Cabinet shuffle late Monday that replaces the finance minister and puts a former finance minister in charge of the country’s troubled state-owned companies.

Ramaphosa, who was sworn in this month after President Jacob Zuma resigned in the face of multiple corruption allegations, signaled his intent to clean up the graft that has weakened one of Africa’s top economies by including two widely respected former finance ministers.

One of them, Nhlanhla Nene, will return to that post after being replaced by Zuma in late 2015.

And Pravin Gordhan, whose firing by Zuma last year sent South Africa’s economy briefly into recession, will rejoin the Cabinet as public enterprises minister.

The finance minister who replaced Gordhan, Malusi Gigaba, has been criticized for his ties to a business family accused of using its association with Zuma to win state contracts. Ramaphosa moved Gigaba back to the home affairs ministry.

Ramaphosa said David Mabuza will become deputy president after he is sworn in Tuesday as a member of parliament.

Last week, Ramaphosa said his Cabinet would shrink after a months-long review and that his government would conduct “lifestyle audits” on government officials, starting with his office.

Ramaphosa, a former trade union leader and businessman who became deputy president under Zuma, made the Cabinet announcement 90 minutes after it had been scheduled despite his calls for the government to do things on time.

The new president apologized for the delay and said “last-minute consultations” had to be made, an indication of the negotiations he is having behind the scenes with Zuma’s allies as he seeks to unify the ruling African National Congress party ahead of next year’s elections.

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