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Bankers behind end to Zuma's chaos

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President Jacob Zuma. (Waldo Swiegers, Bloomberg)
President Jacob Zuma. (Waldo Swiegers, Bloomberg)

Johannesburg - The biggest banks know better than to publicly take on the African National Congress. So when President Jacob Zuma sent markets plunging by replacing the finance minister with an obscure lawmaker, they rushed to lobby the ANC behind the scenes.

“Everybody in business that I know raised their concern and expressed their concern in every way possible,” said Bobby Godsell, the former chief executive officer of AngloGold Ashanti [JSE:ANG] who represents some of the biggest companies in the country through the Business Leadership South Africa association.

As the rand plummeted to a record, banking executives, including those of Goldman Sachs Group and Barclays Bank locally, decided they had to do something. In their strongest intervention to reverse a government decision, they went to meet ANC officials to tell them Zuma’s decision on December 9 to replace Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene with David van Rooyen, a former small-town mayor with little experience, was a disaster, according to three people familiar with the situation.

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