The day after the shock announcement of respected Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene being replaced by an unknown backbencher, David van Rooyen arrived at National Treasury with his two until now unnamed “advisers”. In this article republished with its permission, London-based Africa Confidential names the duo as “Gupta allies” Mohamed Bobat and Ian Whitley and explains the context in graphic detail.
Their arrival so shook the Treasury that its Director General threatened to resign and his staff immediately dubbed the event “9/12” – a reference to the US’s disastrous “9/11” of 2001. Former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel was so incensed that he wrote an open letter that was highly critical of President Jacob Zuma, Van Rooyen and the dark forces manipulating them for publication in City Press.
After Zuma’s December 9 shock (“9/12”) decision, the rand plummeted, financial shares crashed and bond yields surged. After wiping R500bn off the value of South African assets, Zuma was forced into reversing his appointment, replacing him with Pravin Gordhan, the man he had fired a year and a half earlier.