Zuma again defends Van Rooyen’s appointment as Finance Minister

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President Jacob Zuma has again defended his appointment of Des van Rooyen as Finance Minister. He was speaking to editors and senior political reporters at Union Buildings in Pretoria on Monday, when he brought up the issue.

In December last year, Zuma announced that Van Rooyen had replaced Nhlanhla Nene. He was in turn replaced by Pravin Gordhan four days later.

The aim of meeting on Monday was held to forge better relations between the media and with the President and better access to him. The presidency hopes the media will be kept informed about the President’s work and decisions he takes.

Elaborating on the Van Rooyen issue, the President said: “That thing (Van Rooyens appointment) caused such havoc and people think Zuma just woke up and took decision others say he was told by some people. Van Rooyen is my comrade, MK, Trained Economic Comrade, more qualified than any Minister on the finance issue, but I was mad to appoint him. Imagine if I got someone who looked after cattle in Inkandla …”

He went on to say, “I take decisions as president; people don’t know it is a constitutional right. They want to take decisions on behalf of the president, at times including some in the media, you might know why I took the decision but sometimes people speculate.”

President Zuma is also leads a high level panel of heads of states to Burundi this week to resolve the crisis in that country.

The panel was set up at the January AU summit after it decided not to send a peace keeping mission which Bujumbura rejected.
He says United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon contacted him ahead of his visit to the country. Zuma says he will soon contact Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni.

“I am going to contact Museveni, we are not going there to mediate but we are going to help him. I did not talk to him because I wanted him to focus on the elections. I will congratulate him on winning against energetic opponents who were contesting him,” says Zuma.
President Zuma will then travel to Iran where sanctions have been lifted and then to Nigeria.

He says the state visit to Abuja will be the first by an African head of state following President Mahamadu Buhari’s election last year.

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– By Sophie Mokoena