Finance minister Trevor Manuel was “surprised” that his resignation had caused confusion and volatility in the country’s markets. “I was surprised that the news was received in the way that it was,” he told reporters in Pretoria on Tuesday through a live audio link from Washington.

Manuel called the briefing in order to clarify the resignation. “It was without any malice or rancour… without any attempt to be factional.”

He said his resignation was a principled decision because it was common practice in other democratic countries for cabinet ministers to go if the Head of State did. This was to allow the incoming president the power to appoint his own cabinet.

However, while his resignation would come into effect on Thursday, he said he had assured ANC president Jacob Zuma and Kgalema Motlanthe –tipped to be the next president — that he was prepared to serve in the new administration.

“I am more than prepared to serve. I am hoping all the formalities will be concluded… and when we next speak I will still speak to you as Minister of Finance,” he said, adding that he would not be surprised if, by Friday, he had taken a fresh oath of office.