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Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Finance of South Africa attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 19, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich


JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The South African Communist Party, an ally of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), has formally objected to a plan by President Jacob Zuma to sack Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, a senior SACP official said on Thursday.

The party registered its objection to the planned dismissals of Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas during a meeting with Zuma on Monday, deputy secretary general Solly Mapalia told a news conference.

"We objected both to the removal of the comrades as well as the intended replacements, of course even the reasons given," he said referring to Gordhan and Jonas.

"Comrade Pravin (Gordhan) has run that ministry with absolute cleanliness, and that's what is impressing us, it's one of the best-run departments."

Local assets have been under pressure since Monday when Zuma ordered Gordhan to abandon an investor roadshow in Britain and fly home. Zuma has not given a reason for the recall and Mapalia's comments were the first public confirmation that Zuma intends to sack his finance minister.

With Gordhan's position hanging in the balance, further volatile trading in the rand currency underlined his reputation among investors as a guardian of policymaking stability in South Africa.

The rand traded 0.7 percent firmer on Thursday after a brief resurgence on Wednesday when sources within the ANC told Reuters there was a split among its six most senior officials over whether Gordhan should be sacked.

Gordhan's comment on Tuesday that he was still finance minister also cheered markets. On Wednesday, he said he would "open a new chapter" of his life if fired.

A cabinet meeting was held late on Wednesday, but there has been no word of what was discussed. Zuma is attending a debate in the National House of Traditional Leaders in Cape Town on Thursday.

South African media reports suggest Zuma and Gordhan have an uneasy relationship, although the president has denied they are "at war".

Some pundits say Gordhan is being pressured by a faction allied to Zuma, which has criticised his plans to rein in government spending as the economy stagnates and rapped his running of the tax agency. Gordhan has wrangled for months with the head of the agency, a Zuma ally.

(Reporting by TJ Strydom; Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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