South Africa finance minister resigns over graft testimony

Sergio Conner
October 10, 2018

The Gupta brothers are accused of using their friendship with former president Jacob Zuma to influence government decisions including unfairly winning state contrcats.

Treasury spokesperson, Jabulani Sikhakhane, said the finance minister was expected to arrive in Indonesia on Wednesday. "I deeply regret these lapses and beg your forgiveness".

The president is now considering central bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago and one of his predecessors, Tito Mboweni, for the post, the people said.

Meanwhile, there have been reports that Nene approached Ramaphosa at the weekend asking to be relieved of his duties.

Mr. Nene had committed "errors of judgment" but was not personally implicated in any wrongdoing, Mr. Ramaphosa said in his announcement on Tuesday.

"If Ramaphosa wants to retain credibility in terms of his "anti corruption" drive, he has got no option but to let Nene go", said Susan Booysen, a political science professor at the University of the Witwatersrand's School of Governance.

At the graft inquiry, Nene accused Zuma of pushing policies created to benefit the Guptas, including a massive nuclear power expansion programme. Many ministers in his cabinet and the previous Zuma cabinets have held meetings with the Guptas, and some have provided favours to the family.

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Malema had threatened on Sunday that streets protests might be organised to demand for the removal of Nene as finance minister.

Nene was initially hailed as a hero when he told the inquiry that Zuma had fired him in 2015 for "refusing to toe the line" on projects that would have benefited the wealthy Gupta family and others close to the then-president.

"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".

Questions have also been raised about a PIC deal involving Nene's son, while he was chairman of the PIC. He served as labour minister in the cabinet of former president Nelson Mandela in the mid-1990s and was widely praised for his work as the governor of the South African Reserve Bank from 1999 to 2009.

The rand reacted positively at 0.79 percent stronger at R14.72 to the dollar on Tuesday, soon after the announcement of Nene's resignation and Mboweni's appointment after it briefly breached R15 to the dollar earlier in the day.

This was the sentiment from the ANC and opposition parties after the news broke that Mboweni would replace former minister, Nhlanhla Nene, as the country's finance minister.

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