Incoming Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba was selected solely to do the Gupta family’s bidding at the Treasury, the South African Communist Party (SACP) said on Friday.
"The Guptas have almost, now with the removal of [Finance Minister] Pravin Gordhan, ensured that they have unfettered access to the resources at Treasury," SACP second deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila said.
He described President Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet shake-up as unfortunate. The SACP questioned why Gordhan needed to go when he was running an efficient department.
Mapaila raised concerns about the lack of knowledge that Gigaba and his deputy Sfiso Buthelezi had of the Treasury’s workings.
South Africans would now have to pay even more attention to the flow of money from Treasury and how big contracts were awarded.
On Thursday night, Zuma axed Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas. On Monday, he had ordered them to return to the country while they were on an investor roadshow to the UK and US.
The Guptas have close ties to Zuma. They have been accused of having undue influence over his appointment of ministers and over the running of state-owned enterprises.
Mapaila said Zuma would ordinarily have spoken to SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande about his decision to reshuffle the Cabinet, but he was not aware if this had happened or not.
He said it would be shocking if Zuma had not consulted with other members of the ANC’s top six before taking his decision.
"The ANC must lead as a collective. If this fails, it’s not him who is going to be blamed, but the ANC."
The president’s prerogative to appoint and fire ministers should be used to unify and rally South Africans behind government decisions, he said.
"If it gets poisoned we should find a way to clean it or withdraw it in a manner that would continue to advance the interests mandated to the ANC by the people," Mapaila said.
Trade union federation Cosatu said it would reflect on the changes and their implications before offering a comprehensive response.
The matter would form part of talks at its special central executive committee meeting next week, it said in a short statement.