Finance Minister Derek Keys Resigns
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Derek Keys, the respected finance minister retained by the ANC to make black rule more palatable to business, announced today he would resign for personal reasons.
A brief statement issued by Keys in Pretoria said he agreed to stay on until a successor was found, at least until October. He said his departure from government had nothing to do with policy differences within President Nelson Mandela’s government.
″The government of national unity has my personal loyalty and my wholehearted assurance of continuing support during my remaining time in office and thereafter,″ Keys’ statement said.
Even before his announcement, rumors that the 62-year-old Keys would resign weakened the South African currency and caused turmoil in the markets.
Keys’ resignation is the first from the unity government Mandela put together to try to overcome deep divisions from the apartheid era of racial discrimination.
Keys became finance minister under former President F.W. de Klerk in 1992, giving up his post as chairman of Gencor, South Africa’s second-largest mining conglomerate.
Keys was kept in the post by Mandela after the African National Congress won the nation’s first all-race election in April.
His appointment was considered a strategic move to calm business leaders and foreign investors who feared the ANC would impose socialist style economic policies and seize private holdings.
Keys presented the first post-apartheid national budget in parliament two weeks ago with the blessing of Mandela. The budget, which will be debated by parliament later this year, mixed increased spending on badly needed social programs with fiscal discipline in other areas and received a generally welcome reception from the business community.
In his statement, Keys stressed the importance of maintaining a stable economic base during South Africa’s transition from apartheid.
″But the road ahead is a long one for which I believe fresh resources need to be marshaled,″ he said.