The decision by South Africa President Jacob Zuma to sack the finance minister has been widely criticised.
South Africa’s currency fell close to a record low against the dollar yesterday morning as the markets were digesting the news.
BBC Africa business reporter Lerato Mbele says that Nhalnhla Nene’s attempt to rein in spending may have unsettled some people loyal to the president.
The sacking comes as South Africa’s economy is struggling to grow.
President Zuma said Mr Nene was being moved to “another strategic position”, but did not elaborate on the reasons behind the decision.
He has replaced him with the relatively unknown David van Rooyen.
The rand fell to below 15 to the dollar yesterday morning and stock prices also fell in Johannesburg as trading began, Reuters reports.
“The removal of a technocratically sound, decent, hard-working, well respected, fiscally conservative and reform-minded finance minister is a serious blow,” Peter Montalto, an analyst at Nomura, told the AFP news agency.
South Africa’s main opposition leader Mmusi Maimane criticised the sacking on Twitter saying that Mr Zuma “has again proven himself to be a President incapable of making the right decisions”.
Another opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, said the president appointed Mr Van Rooyen because he knows he “will not stand up to him when he wants to do wrong things”.