South Africa's new finance minister notes 'mutual suspicion'

South Africa's new finance minister says he is aware of the "climate of sharp disagreement and mutual suspicion" as his predecessor's firing deepens a split in the country's ruling party.

Malusi Gigaba briefed the media Saturday a day after President Jacob Zuma fired the widely respected Pravin Gordhan and set off an outcry by many in the ruling African National Congress and opposition parties.

The currency of one of Africa's biggest economies has slipped amid concerns about corruption at top levels of government.

Many South Africans are now concerned that the economy could be downgraded to junk status by credit ratings agencies.

The new finance minister says he is committed to maintaining an investment-grade credit rating for South Africa. He also says he will not "betray our people."