President Jacob Zuma has exercised his constitutional prerogative to appoint a new finance minister, the ANC said on Wednesday.
The ruling party respected Zuma’s decision, spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said in a statement.
Earlier on Wednesday, Zuma announced that Nhlanhla Nene would be replaced by ANC MP David van Rooyen.
Nene was to be deployed to another “strategic position” which would be announced in due course.
“We believe his [Van Rooyen’s] experience and tenure as the ANC National Assembly Whip for both Finance Portfolio Committee and ANC Caucus’ Economic Transformation Cluster will enable him to provide the necessary leadership in the department,” Kodwa said.
The ANC wished Van Rooyen well in his new job.
It also commended Nene for the “excellent service he rendered” and said he remained a valuable resource in the organisation.
The EFF called the appointment of new Finance Minister David van Rooyen “a sign of a serious pathological crisis in the leadership and direction of the country”.
EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi on Wednesday called Van Rooyen an unknown, inexperienced, sophomore… “with questionable political credentials”.
“Zuma has appointed him because he knows that Van Rooyen will not stand up to him when he wants to do wrong things. Van Rooyen will be so eternally grateful, absolutely starstruck that anything Zuma asks for will go. Van Rooyen will be prepared to even approve further upgrades to Zuma’s Nkandla home by putting a private zoo that has exotic animals like domesticated tigers.”
Ndlozi further lamented the shuffle, saying Nene has been moved because he “refused illegal instructions from Zuma and his friends in both business and state owned enterprises”.
“Nene refused to give South African Airways [SAA] guarantees and bailout when Zuma’s girlfriend and chairperson of the board requested it. Nene also refused to buy Zuma a new luxurious private jet and declined to grant Zuma’s staff exemptions from using expensive hotels and flying first class.
“Above all, Nhlanhla Nene was reluctant to approve the country’s new nuclear deal which Zuma wanted expedited so he can benefit before his term as president ends. There can be no more shocking news coming out of South Africa to signify that we are a country in crisis, with no knowledge of what tomorrow holds.”
Ndlozi added that the EFF cautioned that with President Jacob Zuma “you must either be corrupt or you fall out of favour with him”.
“No one in the world will trust a political leadership that changes cabinet and finance ministers like underwear. A decision to change a person that presides over the treasury of the country must come with substance, be predictable and not come as a shock. If so, we all doubt what is being intended with the taxes of the people.
“The EFF rejects this reshuffle and calls on the people of South Africa to reject the ANC in the local government elections.”
Removing Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene is a reckless and dangerous move, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said on Wednesday.
The move further damaged the country’s economy, he said in a statement.
“Accompanied by no reasons for such a drastic move, one can only conclude that tonight’s action is yet another example of how President Zuma puts himself first and the country second.
“President Zuma has made one thing very clear tonight: if you stand in my way as finance minister and seek to introduce fiscal prudence, you will find yourself redeployed and cast aside.”
Maimane said it was common knowledge that Nene tried to reign in excessive government spending which caused a block when it came to the nuclear procurement deal and SA Airways.
Maimane said Van Rooyen’s appointment provided no assurance that the country’s economy was in safe hands.
“President Zuma has again proven himself to be a president incapable of making the right decisions to set South Africa on a path to increased economic growth and job creation.
“At this time, our country requires strong economic leadership. Tonight’s decision is the complete opposite,” he said.
The DA has vowed to subject Van Rooyen to close oversight.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa on Wednesday said he is not surprised by the decision to remove Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.
This was given the country’s leadership which was both “morally corrupt and intellectually challenged”, he said.
“They must do us a favour and just recall Zuma, because we never voted for him. He must fall,” Holomisa added.
Holomisa believed Zuma’s relationship with SA Airways chairperson Dudu Myeni had a role to play.
“We know Nene was dressed down by this lady in an ANC study group for refusing to bail her out.
“It is the same morally challenged leadership that wanted to roll out a nuclear programme that Nene did not condone,” Holomisa said.