South Africa’s finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene has asked president Cyril Ramaphosa to sack him, following repeated calls for him to step down on account of his admission to have met the Gupta brothers at their Saxonwold home between 2010 and 2013.
The Business Day newspaper reported on Monday that Nene asked Ramaphosa, who appointed him finance minister last year, to relieve him of his duties over the weekend.
In a report, the newspaper said:
Government sources said Nene approached Ramaphosa after the highly negative public reaction to his apology to South Africans on Friday for the meetings with the Gupta family when he served under Zuma.”
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. He made a public apology about the matter on Friday.
Zuma and the Guptas, who face numerous allegations of using their friendship for mutual self-enrichment, have consistently denied any wrongdoing.
Business Day cited unidentified government sources as saying that Nene made the request to Ramaphosa at the weekend. Nene did not answer calls for comment.
The South African newspaper said:
Government sources said Nene approached Ramaphosa after the highly negative public reaction to his apology to South Africans on Friday for the meetings with the Gupta family when he served under Zuma”
While Nene had been previously praised for standing up to Zuma on crucial issues, the public was angry that he had also visited the Guptas Johannesburg home that has repeatedly been cited in dubious deals between the government and the wealthy family.
Nene also told the state-capture inquiry that he was fired by Zuma in December 2015 for blocking deals that would have benefited the Guptas, particularly a $100 billion nuclear power deal with Russia that could have crippled Africa’s most developed economy.
Opposition leader, Julius Malema of the Economic Freedom Fighters on Sunday took to Twitter saying ‘it looks like going to the streets to have this guy removed is unavoidable’.
Nene’s future is likely to be decided during a meeting of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Monday.
Credit: Reuters, All Africa
Image Credit: VELI NHLAPO