Cape Town – Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa on Tuesday slammed opposition parties' “economic motivations” for a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma as disingenuous.
During a debate preceding the actual voting on the no confidence motion, Mthethwa - who had the last word on behalf of the ruling party - said the economy had been in the doldrums before President Jacob Zuma’s midnight Cabinet reshuffle, and the move neither caused the credit ratings downgrade nor led to a recession.
The motion of no confidence put forward by Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimaine stated that Zuma’s continued irrational behaviour, especially around the finance ministry, plunged South Africa into an economic crisis.
But Mthethwa differed. “The decision to downgrade South Africa to junk status was taken before the Cabinet reshuffle (on March 31 2017).”
Standard & Poor’s and Fitch downgraded South Africa to junk status days after President Jacob Zuma removed key ministers from office, most notably finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas.
The two ratings agencies specifically cited these removals as one of the reasons for their decision, as it put policy continuity at risk.
Mthethwa also claimed that the technical recession had started well before the Cabinet reshuffle.
In the fourth quarter of 2016, gross domestic product contracted by 0.3% and in the first quarter of 2017, the economy showed negative growth of 0.7%, meaning that South Africa entered a technical recession.
Mthethwa concluded that the opposition’s notion that the vote of no confidence is therefore based on poor economic performance is disingenuous and based on “fake news”.
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