#NeneGate, according to Zuma

2016-12-22 10:16
Nhlanhla Nene.

Nhlanhla Nene.

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Durban – President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday for the first time gave his side of the story about events surrounding his firing of finance minister Nhlanhla Nene saying "white monopoly capital and their stooges" forced him to reverse his decision to fire Nene.

"December last year I took a decision informed by what I am talking about and appointed a minister of finance, and the monopoly capital and their friends and their stooges attacked me and they are still attacking me today, we were not there... The question is if the president takes another decision, are we ready?" said Zuma.

He was speaking at an ANC Youth League (ANCYL) lecture on economic freedom at the Olive Convention Centre in Durban.

Addressing more than 2 000 members Zuma said: "The fact of the matter is that the economy is in the fewer hands..."

"I can tell you sitting on my own being pushed to reverse the decision, I said to myself, 'This is what happens when the nation is not alert. When they do not even understand the actions taken and then they listen to the wrong narrative'.

"Since that time some colleagues [call it] 'the disaster', 'the Nene disaster', some call it, even some amongst yourselves."

Economy 'a life and death issue'

Zuma was referring to the reshuffling of his Cabinet last year where he replaced then finance minister Nene with the lesser-known Van Rooyen.

Van Rooyen remained in the position for two days amid growing public backlash.

He was then replaced with Pravin Gordhan who had served in the position before. During the two days that Van Rooyen was in the position, the rand fell to an almost-record low.

He said the economy was an "issue of life and death in any situation" and that "those that have economic power they control everything, the narrative and the media".

"They can paint you black when you are not black at all because they have the economic capacity to do so."

He said there were many poor people who were lingering in jail "when they had committed minor crimes or were innocent, but because they did not have economic power they could not afford the best lawyers to defend themselves. But those who have the power, they can commit crime, murder, everything, but they have the best legal brains and they don't go to prison. So the suffering is felt continuously".

He said it was of concern that the majority of those who filled prisons were poor.

Call for radical steps

Zuma told the audience that had the media not been present at the venue he would elaborate on reports that the ANC was losing power.

"They [ANC supporters] did not vote for other parties, they decided to stay at home with their votes because they had no other party to vote for, but the ANC had been dealt with for a long time until people began to doubt."

He called on the youth to take radical steps "so that we have economic power".

"And if you do nothing about it, you will end up at times, losing the fight because those who have economic power can buy people with a price that they cannot say no to, so the quicker we liberate ourselves, the better".

He said the youth was not wrong to say they wanted economic freedom now.

"When we were young we said freedom now, and we got it."

He urged the youth league to build and take the country forward.

'Tell me what I have done wrong'

On the issue of land he said the league needed to deal with the matter.

"Part of the weakness of us having a weakness in the economy is because we do not have the land."

He said land was a critical issue for any country and was one that might have to be reconsidered in the ANC's policy conference next year.

"Policies are there, we need the methods to implement and liberate ourselves."

He said he had heard news reports about an international business chamber calling for his resignation.

"And I realised to myself that I will never on my own resign because if I did so, I would be surrendering to monopoly capital," he said, adding that he asked himself "what had I done wrong?"

"I have asked those who have talked to me, 'Tell me what I have done wrong', and when I ask them they run out of answers."

But the narrative of "corruption and corruption" continues, he said.

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