Zuma again hints he had reason to axe Nene

Cape Town – “You say a sitting finance minister was removed without reason. But you don’t know the reasons why I removed a sitting finance minister.”

This is the response President Jacob Zuma gave in the National Assembly on Thursday when asked by the DA leader Mmusi Maimane about his alleged protection of Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini.

“How could you protect a minister, such as Bathabile Dlamini (following her failure to secure the social grant payments to beneficiaries on 1 April),” Maimane asked, “yet you fire a sitting finance minister (Nhlanhla Nene) who has done nothing wrong.”

Zuma unceremoniously removed Nene from the finance portfolio on 9 December 2015, which sent the rand into free-fall and wiped off billions from South Africa’s stock and bond markets.

Nene was replaced with ANC backbencher Des van Rooyen, who after serving only four days, was moved to the portfolio of cooperative governance and traditional affairs.

Pravin Gordhan who served as finance minister between 2009 and 2014 was reappointed to the position.

It is not the first time that Zuma hinted that he had “reasons” for removing Nene.

He initially said markets “overreacted” to Nene’s firing and later during a parliamentary sitting hinted that things had not been perfect during Nene’s tenure as finance minister.

“He (Nene) did not receive a good rating from the DA in their report card,” Zuma said at the time. “In fact, they said he hadn’t performed and asked for his dismissal.” 

Zuma at the time also insisted that Van Rooyen was the “most qualified” financial minister that he ever appointed. 

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