South African president fires finance minister as currency drops

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s president has fired the country’s finance minister who served less than two years.

On Wednesday, President Jacob Zuma said Nhlanhla Nene will be replaced by David van Rooyen, a former mayor and member of parliament who has served on financial committees.

In a statement from the presidency, Zuma said Nene, South Africa’s first black finance minister, did well in a difficult situation. The president said Nene will be deployed to “another strategic position.”

South Africa’s currency, the rand, recently dropped to new lows against the U.S. dollar, closing Wednesday at 14.52 rand to $1.

Last week, ratings agency Fitch downgraded the country to BBB-. Standard and Poor’s maintained South Africa’s BBB- foreign currency credit rating, but revised the outlook to negative.