President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to rescue South Africa’s economy and tackle corruption have been dealt a big blow.
This comes after finance minister Nhlanhla Nene confirmed at the Zondo commission this week that he held private meetings with the Guptas, but failed to disclose them.
According to a report by the Sunday Times, the finance ministry is once again hanging in the balance and there are serious questions about Nene’s credibility – particularly over whether the Guptas had any role in his previous deployments as minister.
Speaking to the paper, Nene said he did not think that the meetings he had with the Guptas were relevant for the purpose of his appointment. He admitted, in hindsight, that he should have informed Ramaphosa about the meetings.
“The question never arose and I am not aware that presidents ask people they are about to appoint to reveal who they have met as part of the appointment process,” he said.
While Nene said that he was ultimately fired for refusing to bend to the Gupta’s wishes, officials in the presidency said that the ‘storm around him’ undermines attempts to clean up the government and stabilise the National Treasury.
The officials added that Ramaphosa was ‘very shocked’ at the revelations of Nene’s relationship with the Guptas, but that he has not discussed the future of the finance ministry with him.
The president also faces a dilemma over the appointment of a commission of inquiry into alleged impropriety at the Public Investment Corporation as it is likely to include allegations against Nene.
The Mail & Guardian reported on Friday (5 October) that Nene’s son was involved in securing funding from the state-owned fund manager while Nene chaired it.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, a number of former South African Revenue Service officials said that they had also pleaded to Nene for help when allegations arose of a ‘rogue unit’, but that he had failed to step in.