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ANC cracks bared as ministers battle with SOEs

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Johannesburg - A series of public spats between South African cabinet ministers, state companies and departments is exposing divisions in the ruling party and risks spooking investors in an economy the SA Reserve Bank forecasts will record zero growth this year.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan last week dismissed comments about renewable energy policy by the head of the state-owned power utility, while Telecommunications Minister Siyabonga Cwele said he’d fight his industry regulator in court over plans for an auction of broadband spectrum announced without his permission. Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson’s energy department is investigating its own national Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF) for failing to seek approval before bidding for Chevron assets in the country including a refinery.

The disputes come as the government and business leaders seek to stave off a credit-rating downgrade to junk and as the ANC, which has governed South Africa since white minority rule ended in 1994, faces a key test in municipal elections this week. Differences within the party appear to be spilling over into the running of government, leading to policy uncertainty, according to Theo Venter, a political analyst at the School of Business and Governance at North-West University in Potchefstroom.

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