South African finance minister Nene resigns over Gupta scandal

Lesetja Kganyago

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.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said he accepted the resignation "in the interests of good governance".

News24 has independently obtained confirmation that Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to relieve him of his duties.

Zuma and the Guptas have denied any wrongdoing.

The local currency, which briefly fell below 15/$ in the early afternoon on Tuesday as uncertainty around the fate of Nhlanhal Nene lingered, ended up 1.8% stronger against the greenback, an indication of positive market reaction to the appointment of finance chief of the former SA Reserve Bank governor.

Moody's is set to review its rating on Friday, and Nene's departure risks rattling fragile investor sentiment towards an economy in recession.

Zuma ruled for nearly nine years before the governing African National Congress forced him to quit in February and replaced him with his 65-year-old deputy and party leader, Ramaphosa.

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But Nene's opponents say he was involved in corrupt deals with the Guptas when he was deputy finance minister and head of the state pension fund.

Former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas has told the Zondo commission that in 2015 he had been offered 600m rand ($NZ63m) if he accepted the post of finance minister at a meeting at the Johannesburg mansion.

Nene has become a divisive figure after testimony he gave at an inquiry into allegations of corruption by the Guptas, in which he admitted to the previously undisclosed visits.

After revealing the details of his own meetings, Mr Nene issued a public apology saying: "I am human too, I do make mistakes, including those of poor judgement".

"The Nene case shows how it is hard for Ramaphosa to change the country", Tresca said.

And on Tuesday, following a day of silence from the ANC and government, along with Ramaphosa's refusal to answer journalists' questions about the matter at a launch of a stamp in the morning, the president finally addressed the nation on Nene. Under hard circumstances and often under great pressure, he consistently defended the cause of proper financial management and clean governance.

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