As Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene prepares to take the stand when the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture resumes on Wednesday, the details about how he was fired by former President Jacob Zuma from his post is expected to surface.
Nene was dismissed by Zuma in December 2015, after just 18 months into his tenure. This sparked a wave of protests, marches and calls for the former President to resign.
Many attributed his removal as part of the Gupta inspired influence in the appointment and removal of cabinet ministers.
It was December 9 in 2015 when then President Zuma dropped this bombshell at midnight, removing Nene from his position. “I have decided to remove Mr Nhlanhla Nene as Minister of Finance, ahead of his deployment to another strategic position.”
After months of speculation, the cabinet reshuffle which had been reported on eventually came to light.
In his announcement Zuma thanked Nene for his contribution. “Mr Nene has done well since his appointment as Minister of Finance, during a difficult economic climate. Mr Nene enjoys a lot of respect in the sector locally and up broad, having also served as a Deputy Minister of Finance previously.”
Nene was the first black African to assume the powerful and crucial position of Finance Minister in May 2014. Having deputised in the position for six years, Nene was expected to steer the country’s fiscal policy for the next five years.
However, just over a year into office, Nene was being removed and Zuma replaced him with Des Van Rooyen. ”I have decided to appoint a Member of Parliament Mr David van Rooyen as the new Minister of Finance.”
Soon after Van Rooyen sworn into office. “I David Douglas van Rooyen swear that I will be faithful to the public of South Africa, and will obey respect and uphold the Constitution and all other laws of the republic and I undertake to hold my office as Minister with honour and dignity, to be a true and faithful councillor, not to divide directly or indirectly any secret matter entrusted to me and to perform the functions of my office.”
However, this did not go down well with certain sectors. The financial markets plummeted and the rand hit record lows.
Four days later Zuma was forced to replace Van Rooyen with former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
At the African National Congress’ December 2017 elective conference, Cyril Ramaphosa was elected as the party president and the new National Executive Committee resolved to recall former President Jacob Zuma. Announcing his first cabinet as head of state, Ramaphosa re-appointed Nene as finance minister.
“I Nhlanhla Musa Nene swear that I will be faithful to the public of South Africa, and will obey, respect and uphold the constitution and all other laws of the republic and I undertake to hold my office as minister with honour and dignity, to be a true and faithful councillor, not to divide directly or indirectly any secret matter entrusted to me and to perform the functions of my office. So help me God.”
Nene, who has been mum about his removal, will take the stand at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on Wednesday.
He is expected to shed light on some of his encounters with the Guptas. The commission is investigating whether there was undue influence in the appointment or the removal of cabinet ministers. Author- Mbali Thethani
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