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On Monday night, President Jacob Zuma told the top five leaders of the ANC, who had gathered at Luthuli House in Jo’burg, that he planned to fire finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas. The party’s top officials — Cyril Ramaphosa, Jessie Duarte, Gwede Mantashe, Zweli Mkhize and Baleka Mbete — were shocked. After all, it was barely 15 months since Zuma had torpedoed the rand and burnt SA’s credibility by axing then-finance minister Nhlanhla Nene. Surely not again, they must have thought. Mantashe apparently put up the strongest resistance to Zuma’s move. Ramaphosa and Mkhize raised their voices too.But they knew there was little they could do. The president has the constitutional right to hire and fire ministers. Zuma had evidently made up his mind — and this time, he wasn’t to be pulled back from the fiscal cliff, as he was when he was forced to replace Des van Rooyen with Gordhan in December 2015.But the die had already been cast when, over the weekend, Zuma ...

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