All round negative reactions to removal of Nhlanhla Nene from Finance

DECEMBER 10, 2015

President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday announced the removal of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene from the Finance portfolio in Cabinet and the appointment of with African National Congress (ANC) MP David van Rooyen.

“I have decided to remove Mr Nhlanhla Nene as Minister of Finance, ahead of his deployment to another strategic position,” Zuma said in a statement.

Zuma said that Nene had done well since his appointment as Minister of Finance during a difficult economic climate.  

Van Rooyen served as the Whip of the Standing Committee on Finance and as Whip of the Economic Transformation Cluster.

He was a former Umkhonto we Sizwe operative in the 1980s and has held a number of leadership positions in the ANC from 1994 to 2007.

Van Rooyen is a former executive mayor of Merafong Municipality and a former North West provincial chairperson of the South African Local Government Association.

He has an advance Business Management Diploma, a Diploma in Municipal Governance, a certificate in Municipal Governance, a certificate in Councillor Development, a certificate in Municipal Finance, a certificate in Economic and Public Finance and a Masters Degree in Public Development and Management.

In July 2014, the University of London conferred a MSc Finance to Van Rooyen.

"The new deployment of Mr Nene will be announced in due course," Zuma said.

Reactions

Following the removal of Nene, the rand plummeted against major international currencies. By 21:20 on Wednesday night, the rand was trading at R16.34 to the euro down 2.74% and R22.5 against the pound down 2.5%.

The rand was down 1.39% against the greenback at R14.83/$.

The Congress of the People (COPE) said President Zuma had played his worst card ever by removing Nene.

"Out of the blue, comes this announcement of Nene which will make the jittery market even more dubious about South Africa’s prospects of shifting economic gears and holding spending," said COPE spokesperson Dennis Bloem.

"He stands between South Africa and economic growth. He has certainly overstayed his welcome and it is he who should go."

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said that removing Nene is a reckless and dangerous move.

"Accompanied by no reasons for such a drastic move, one can only conclude that tonight’s action is yet another example of how President Zuma puts himself first and the country second.

"President Zuma has made one thing very clear tonight: if you stand in my way as finance minister and seek to introduce fiscal prudence, you will find yourself redeployed and cast aside."

Maimane said it was common knowledge that Nene tried to reign in excessive government spending which caused a block when it came to the nuclear procurement deal and SA Airways.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said he is not surprised by the decision to remove Nene.

This was given the country's leadership which was both "morally corrupt and intellectually challenged", he said.

"They must do us a favour and just recall Zuma, because we never voted for him. He must fall," Holomisa added.

Holomisa believed Zuma's relationship with SA Airways chairperson Dudu Myeni had a role to play.

"We know Nene was dressed down by this lady in an ANC study group for refusing to bail her out.

"It is the same morally challenged leadership that wanted to roll out a nuclear programme that Nene did not condone," Holomisa said.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)  called the appointment of van Rooyen "a sign of a serious pathological crisis in the leadership and direction of the country".

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi on Wednesday called Van Rooyen an unknown, inexperienced, sophomore... "with questionable political credentials".

"Zuma has appointed him because he knows that Van Rooyen will not stand up to him when he wants to do wrong things. Van Rooyen will be so eternally grateful, absolutely starstruck that anything Zuma asks for will go. Van Rooyen will be prepared to even approve further upgrades to Zuma’s Nkandla home by putting a private zoo that has exotic animals like domesticated tigers."

Ndlozi further lamented the shuffle, saying Nene has been moved because he "refused illegal instructions from Zuma and his friends in both business and state owned enterprises".

"Nene refused to give South African Airways [SAA] guarantees and bailout when Zuma’s girlfriend and chairperson of the board requested it. Nene also refused to buy Zuma a new luxurious private jet and declined to grant Zuma’s staff exemptions from using expensive hotels and flying first class.

"Above all, Nhlanhla Nene was reluctant to approve the country’s new nuclear deal which Zuma wanted expedited so he can benefit before his term as president ends. There can be no more shocking news coming out of South Africa to signify that we are a country in crisis, with no knowledge of what tomorrow holds."

Ndlozi added that the EFF cautioned that with President Jacob Zuma "you must either be corrupt or you fall out of favour with him".

"No one in the world will trust a political leadership that changes cabinet and finance ministers like underwear. A decision to change a person that presides over the treasury of the country must come with substance, be predictable and not come as a shock. If so, we all doubt what is being intended with the taxes of the people.

"The EFF rejects this reshuffle and calls on the people of South Africa to reject the ANC in the local government elections."

----additional reporting News24wire