Four-day finance minister, Des van Rooyen – once described by president Jacob Zuma as “the most qualified minister I have ever appointed to the finance portfolio” – reportedly used staff members during his tenure at the Parliamentary Budget Office to complete his academic assignments.
According to a report by Business Day, a single staff member from the PBO made a submission to the Public Protector’s office, under oath, that at least two other staff members disclosed to them that van Rooyen tasked them with completing his academic assignments.
This happened between 2014 and 2015, the submitted letter said. The document forms part of a CCMA complaint lodged by the staff member in question, alleging that they were overlooked for promotion because they refused to do van Rooyen’s academic work for him.
The PBO has denied the claims, while the staff members implicated in the letter refused to comment, Business Day reported.
Van Rooyen was shoved into the spotlight in December 2015 when he was placed as finance minister after former minister Nhlanhla Nene was unceremoniously fired.
Van Rooyen – a then-unknown ANC back-bencher – was removed from the position four days later, after the market, business leaders and politicians reacted to his appointment negatively.
Responding to criticism about appointing an unknown entity into one of the most crucially important branches of government, president Jacob Zuma defended the move by saying that van Rooyen was by far the most qualified person for the position – and that he was the most qualified minister ever appointed to the finance portfolio.
Van Rooyen has several diplomas and an MSc Finance (Economic Policy)‚ which he obtained in July 2014 from the University of London.
The minister currently oversees the department of cooperative governance, and has been implicated in the ongoing Gupta state capture saga, where it has been alleged that he was at the Guptas’ residence in Saxonwold “drinking tea” the night before Nene was axed.
The Guptas have been accused of using their influence with president Jacob Zuma to appoint ministers who will treat them, and their businesses, favourably.
Along with president Zuma, van Rooyen has applied for a court interdict to prevent a Public Protector report on the matter from being released.