South Africa’s Finance Minister Nene Asks President to Sack Him, Rand Weakens
JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s rand was weaker early on Monday following reports in the Business Day that Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to sack him, after he admitted to visiting the home of the Gupta brothers, friends of scandal-plagued former leader Jacob Zuma. Nene has become a divisive figure in SA […]
JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s rand was weaker early on Monday following reports in the Business Day that Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to sack him, after he admitted to visiting the home of the Gupta brothers, friends of scandal-plagued former leader Jacob Zuma.
Nene has become a divisive figure in SA after giving testimony at the inquiry into allegations of corruption by the Guptas – in which he admitted to the previously undisclosed visits. He made a public apology about the matter on Friday.
Zuma and the Guptas, who face numerous allegations of using their friendship for mutual self-enrichment, have consistently denied any wrongdoing.
The Business Day newspaper, citing unidentified government sources, reported on Monday that Nene made the request to Ramaphosa 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 South African newspaper said.
It said the issue was likely to be raised at a meeting of the ruling African National Congress party later on Monday.
Treasury spokesman Jabulani Sikhakhane referred Reuters to the presidency for comment. Ramaphosa’s spokesman did not respond to phone calls.
Several ministers and government officials have been implicated in the widening corruption 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.
Nene has also been praised by commentators for standing up to Zuma on crucial issues.
He told the inquiry he was fired by Zuma in December 2015 for blocking deals that would have benefited the Guptas, particularly a $100 billion nuclear power deal with Russia that could have crippled Africa’s most developed economy.
Nene was reappointed to the post earlier this year by Ramaphosa, who has made clean governance and the kick-starting of an economy mired in recession top priorities.
The rand was more than 1 percent weaker at 14.9200 per dollar at 0736 GMT.
UPDATE Monday 8 Oct, noon: President Ramaphosa’s spokeswoman Khusela Diko said on Monday: “We are not aware of Minister Nene asking to be relieved of his duties.”
(Reporting by Ed Stoddard and Novvelo Chalumbira; Editing by Paul Tait, Alexander Winning and Jenni Baxter)