Two Steps Forward; Three Steps Back

By: Andrew Brockman.

As an American, it is easy to put blinders on and not consider anything about the global economy. United States citizens are very ignorant to what is going on in other countries, unless it affects the USA. Many citizens believe that our government is corrupt; however, it is nothing compared to what other countries have. South Africa is a developed country which is incredibly corrupt, but people are not aware of it. What is so depressing is that learning about the corruption is merely one click away, but Americans do not read about it.

South Africa is in a state of chaos, as President Jacob Zuma ousted its finance minister Pravin Gordhan.[1] In South Africa, there are two rival groups of the African National Congress (A.N.C.).[2] The result of this action is that the Rand plummeted 4% against the U.S. Dollar, causing investors to fear loss. Gordhan was just one of many top ministers in South Africa who were fired. In fact, ten of thirty-five cabinet members were fired during a state of the union broadcast.[3]

South Africa is the second largest economy in Africa, and nerves were high when President Zuma cancelled several of Gordhams meetings in London, causing the Rand to slump a total of 8% to the U.S. Dollar this week.[4]

It is no surprise that other top officials are skeptical of this move. Mr. Zuma took office in 2009, and has been involved in several different scandals since then; he currently faces 783 corruption charges associated with arms deals from twenty years ago.[5] South Africa’s highest court found he violated his oath of office “by refusing to abide by an order by the county’s graft ombudsman for him to return some of the public money that was spent on upgrading his home with various luxuries including a swimming pool and a state of the art chicken coup.[6]” It is no doubt because of actions like this that critics believe the government is failing its citizens in South Africa. “The culprits run from the president down to clerks of the court.[7]

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is calling the move “unacceptable.[8]” Further, other cabinet officials have said that Zuma has overstepped the party’s wishes.[9]

“Ministers have been moved, and the majority of them were good performing ministers.[10]” In fact, the senior A.N.C. lawmaker pointed out that Gordhan’s only crime against the government was the fact that he was incorruptible. Zuma was thought to be the posterchild against government corruption.[11]

President Zuma has long thought that Gordhan only represented South Africa’s white-led businesses.[12] In a world of racial tension, this is a serious accusation against a prominent politician. Imagine his reaction as he learned of his dismissal from a television report. Nonetheless, Mark Heywood, a well known activist in South Africa, believes that the firing “is not being done to advance our Constitution … but to advance a faction and a gang of serious thieves.[13]” Presdient Zuma’s new cabinet is set to be sworn in later this week.

Two steps forward three steps back.



[1] Jethro Mullen and Alanna Petroff, South Africa’s Currency Plummets After Finance Minister Fired, CNN, April 1, 2017, available at

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Norimitsu Onishi and Sewell Chan, Firing of South Africa’s Finance Minister Widens a Political Rift, The New York Times, March 31, 2017, available at

[5] Aislinn Laing, Jacob um’s Nkandla Loan Questioned over Bank Links to ‘Crony,’ The Telegraph, Sept, 13, 2016, available at

[6] Id.

[7] Rule of Law Collapsing in South Africa, Finds Government Corruption Report, Atlas Network, Nov. 25, 2016, available at

[8] Supra Note 5

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] Supra Note 4

[13] Id.