JOHANNESBURG: Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has reportedly asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to relieve him of his position.
This comes in the wake of Nene’s explosive testimony before the state capture inquiry last week. During his time in the hot seat, Nene admitted to meeting the infamous Gupta family under dubious circumstances. The embattled Finance Minister contradicted his previous accounts of his interactions with the Guptas, which has now led to both public and political outcry.
Business Day has since reported that following the fallout, Nene requested that he be relieved of his ministerial duties. This request was apparently made to President Ramaphosa on the weekend.
Appearing before the Commission of Inquiry Into State Capture, Nene has already been ordered to tell the truth regarding his involvement with the Guptas by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). The red berets issued a statement ordering Nene to resign once he had divulged all the relevant information.
A clearly rattled Nene revealed that, between 2010 and 2015, he had met with the Guptas on multiple occasions. Prior to his appearance before the commission, Nene said he had only seen the Guptas in passing. This grave contradiction has led opposition parties to call for Nene’s head.
Nene also revealed dubious details relating to the controversial Estina Dairy Project and former president Jacob Zuma’s erratic behaviour surrounding the much-debated nuclear deal.
The latter proved to be Nene’s undoing under Zuma’s despotic tenure. The Finance Minister refused to approve the nuclear deal, which he says, would have bankrupted the country. As a result of his defiance, Nene was removed from his position and replaced by Des van Rooyen.
This was one of Zuma’s infamous cabinet reshuffles, which have become a recurring point of debate within the state capture inquiry.
Meanwhile, a report by Bloomberg, which coincides with the report alleging that Nene had asked the president to relieve him of his duties, members of the African National Congress’ (ANC) top six have already started looking for a new finance minister, who will replace Nene immediately after his resignation.
Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas is considered to be a frontrunner.
Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago and one of his deputies, Daniel Mminele, along with Gauteng provincial finance portfolio head Barbara Creecy, have all been mentioned as possible candidates for the position.
No official decision to replace Nene has yet been taken. Ramaphosa is expected to release a statement either confirming or denying that Nene has been relieved of his duties, after which a suitable replacement will be sworn in.