Seven months after former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene was unexpectedly and unceremoniously fired, Jacob Zuma continues to deny the move had any major impact on South Africa’s economy.
In a reply to a Parliamentary question on the matter, Zuma continued to dismiss the notion that his toying with the chief finance position of the country had anything to do with the immediate and obvious economic fallout, blaming any apparent crash on “speculative attacks”.
In the response to the DA’s David Maynier he said: “The currencies of countries that have international trade linkages are contagiously linked to both domestic and global temporal events. This is called incidence of speculative attacks. SA is not an exception.”
According to the president, analysis of economic movements between November and December 2015 showed that global and domestic events and shocks were what hit the South African currency.
Economists, analysts, financial groups and ratings agencies all disagree.
Following Zuma’s removal of Nene, South Africa’s market tanked, sending the rand to almost R18 to the dollar. The action is believed to have wiped R500 billion from the South African economy – though the market has since recovered.
Notably, the Public Investment Corporation is on record saying that R100 billion worth of its investments tanked on the move.
So severe was the impact, that senior ANC officials reportedly forced Zuma to reappoint Pravin Gordhan in the position four days later. The president has maintained that everyone overreacted to the situation.
The reasoning the president gave for firing Nene has also proven to be a farce.
Zuma said that South Africa had nominated Nene for the position of head of the African regional centre of the New Development Bank, also known as the Brics Bank.
“Processes to make an appointment to that position are under way under the aegis of the New Development Bank in Shanghai, China,” he said.
However, seven months have passed and the former finance minister has still not been approached for the position in any form. Following his axing, Nene resigned as a member of Parliament and was left unemployed for three months.
In April, Nene announced that he would be moving to the private sector and currently has “three bosses” – one of whom he jokingly said is his wife.