South Africa's Zuma, Gordhan appear together to ease infighting talk

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 16, 2016 9:11 AM

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African President Jacob Zuma and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan sat side-by-side on Friday in a show of scripted solidarity following weeks of speculation that the pair are locked in a bitter power struggle.

Zuma and Gordhan have been at odds over spending at state-owned companies, plans for a multi-billion dollar nuclear power program and allegations the president's wealthy friends influence political appointments, analysts say.

Local media have reported that Gordhan could be arrested for his part in a surveillance unit at the tax agency he once led, as part of a police investigation that Zuma's opponents have described as a politically driven "witch-hunt".

The perceived rifts between the two have rattled markets in Africa's most industrialized economy, which faces the risk of ratings downgrades later this year.

Following a meeting with business leaders, Gordhan and Zuma sat next to each other at a news conference where they both emphasized the need to work together to address South Africa's economic problems.

Zuma also urged politicians, business leaders, the public and the media to be more positive about South Africa, following shows of dissent by members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in recent weeks.

"The meeting appeals to all in our country to refrain from making public utterances that promote a negative narrative about the country," Zuma said.

Divisions within the ANC have widened since it suffered its worst-ever local election results last month.

(Reporting by Joe Brock; Editing by Ed Cropley)