Cyril ‘not aware’ of Nene’s request

Finance minister ‘wants to step down’ after Gupta revelations

Nhlanhla Nene. File picture
Nhlanhla Nene. File picture
Image: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Mary-Ann Palmer

President Cyril Ramaphosa is not aware of finance minister Nhlanhla Nene’s request to be relieved of his duties after he admitted to visiting the Gupta brothers, according to his spokesperson.

This, as EFF leader Julius Malema challenged the president on Monday to accept Nene’s resignation.

The rand fell more than 1% after Business Day reported that Nene had asked Ramaphosa to remove him after he admitted to visiting the home of the Guptas.

Nene has become a divisive figure after testimony he gave last week at the Zondo inquiry into state capture, in which he admitted to the previously undisclosed visits.

He made a public apology about the matter on Friday.

Business Day cited unidentified government sources as saying that Nene had made the request at the weekend.

“Government sources said Nene approached Ramaphosa after the highly negative public reaction to his apology to South Africans on Friday for the meetings with the Gupta family when he served under Zuma,” the newspaper said.

It said the issue was likely to be raised at a meeting of the ANC later on Monday.

Nene did not answer calls for comment.

“We are not aware of minister Nene asking to be relieved of his duties,” Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, said.

“What the president has noted is the testimony that he submitted to the [commission].

“At this point, what we are appealing for is for the commission to be allowed to do its work and make findings, and on the basis of that the president will see what further action is required.”

The public inquiry headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo is reviewing allegations that three Gupta brothers – Atul, Ajay and Rajesh – unduly influenced former president Jacob Zuma about political appointments and the awarding of state contracts.

Several ministers and government officials have been implicated in the graft scandals around the Guptas.

One common theme that has emerged is visits to the family’s sprawling Johannesburg property, which is why there has been public anger regarding Nene’s revelations.

But Nene has also been praised by commentators for standing up to Zuma on crucial issues.

Meanwhile, Malema – in a written letter to Ramaphosa on Monday – said SA was undergoing serious economic difficulties, and one of the ingredients in an economic recovery was a credible finance minister.

“The unfortunate reality is that both domestic and global owners of money‚ who are the ones whom you argue should play a role in stimulating economic activity to realise growth and job creation‚ will not do so under a compromised minister of finance,” Malema wrote.

“Public servants at all spheres and levels of government will have no obligation to responsibly manage state fiscal resources under a compromised minister of finance.

“The reality is that [Nene] was friends of the Gupta criminal syndicate‚ visited them often‚ discussed sensitive state businesses with them‚ and [was] therefore one of the enablers of state capture and corruption.

“The Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement‚ which is supposed to be a statement to build confidence among all important economic role players‚ cannot‚ and should not‚ be delivered by a minister who was part of the Gupta criminal syndicate.”

Malema also alleged that there was more to the allegations around Nene.

“We have it on good authority that the current public revelations about your minister of finance are not complete.

“There are various other sensitive developments around him that render him incapable of being a member of the executive‚” Malema said.

Nene’s spokesperson‚ Jabulani Sikhakhane‚ was not available for comment.