Rumours abound over Zuma's finance ministry U-turn

2015-12-15 12:31
President Jacob Zuma (Netwerk24)

President Jacob Zuma (Netwerk24) (Liza van Deventer)

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Cape Town – A rumour that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was getting ready to jump ship in protest over President Jacob Zuma’s finance minister reshuffle could have made him rethink his decision.

Or it could have been a meeting between the ruling party’s top six officials and bank CEOs. 

Or it might have been unhappiness among current and past African National Congress members over the decision to remove Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister and replace him with unknown ANC backbencher and former Merafong municipality mayor David van Rooyen.

This is according to various reports this week. On Sunday, Zuma changed his mind and replaced Van Rooyen with Pravin Gordhan, who was finance minister between 2009 and 2014.

In his Business Day column on Tuesday, political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi said Zuma might have had a vision of himself standing outside the Union Buildings. He said his reversing his decision was an act of self-preservation.

"The president must have come into contact with rumours that his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, was getting ready to leave the Cabinet in protest against the president’s economic sabotage,” Matshiqi wrote.

The rumour might have been an attempt to see how many in the ANC would try to stop Ramaphosa from resigning.

“If too many were persuaded that such a step would be a calamity for the country, the balance of support in the party would shift, to the detriment of Zuma and those who, for inexplicable reasons, still support him," Matshiqi wrote.

'The deputy president remains in his position'

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson on Monday laughed off the rumours of his imminent resignation.

"The deputy president remains in his position, discharging responsibilities assigned to him by the president and also in assisting to discharge his constitutional mandate," Ronnie Mamoepa told News24.

It was reported on Monday that the ANC’s top six officials met bank CEOs, who expressed their concerns about Van Rooyen’s appointment and its effects on the economy.

Last week, former Cabinet minister Barbara Hogan called on Zuma to resign.

"I certainly believe that if ANC members are worth their salt, they have to start looking very carefully and introspectively... about our roles in this organisation and what we are giving consent to by allowing this president to operate as though he is completely unaccountable," she told News24.

She said Zuma had become a law unto himself and, if the ANC did not want to recall him, the party at least needed to hold him to account.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions condemned Zuma’s removing Nene.

"Minister Nene’s tenure was very short and the economic sector does not cope well with abrupt and unqualified changes; because that creates uncertainty," the union federation said in a statement. 

Zuma 'is stuffed'

Zuma’s replacing Gordhan with Van Rooyen as co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister (Cogta) also raised concerns.

On Monday, the South African Municipal Workers Union said Van Rooyen’s being appointed Cogta head was a great concern.

"He was not able to effectively run one municipality and now has been tasked as the general overseer of all municipalities. We hope that his experience in Merafong will not be felt throughout the country," the union said. 

Cosatu called his appointment “blocking holes when the water is rushing in”.

Matshiqi said Zuma’s reputation was in ruins.

“It is possible, however, that things have now reached a point where, whether Zuma communicates strength or weakness, he is stuffed. The decision to fire Van Rooyen is, in political terms, worse than leaving him there. The president should have stepped down instead,” he said in his column. 

Read more on:    cosatu  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  nhlanhla nene  |  jacob zuma  |  politics

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