Jacob Zuma sacks Finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene

By Crystal Orderson in Cape Town
Posted on Thursday, 10 December 2015 10:10

The unexpected move was met with shock from opposition politicians, who called it reckless and irrational, with economists warning this could be foreboding for economic uncertainty in Africa’s most industrialised economy.

President Zuma puts himself first and the country second

Nene’s sacking comes as the economy is teetering on the brink, while the currency has shed almost 50 per cent against the US dollar this year and the country has been downgraded by rating agencies.

International rating agency, S&P recently projected a negative outlook for South Africa.

Minutes after Nene’s sacking was made public, the rand crashed to a record low, with economists saying the move to fire him had significantly increased the risk of a sovereign debt downgrade to junk status.

In a short press statement released on Wednesday evening, there were no reasons given for the sacking, but some speculate it was politically motivated.

Zuma announced that the ANC legislator, van Rooyen would replace Nene, adding that the former minister was to be deployed to another “strategic position”, which would be announced in due course.

Opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) leader, Mmusi Maimane said van Rooyen’s appointment provided no assurance that the country’s economy was in safe hands.

“Accompanied by no reasons for such a drastic move, one can only conclude that tonight’s (yesterday) action is yet another example of how President Zuma puts himself first and the country second,” he said.

Congress of the People’s (COPE), spokesperson Dennis Bloem said: “Out of the blue, comes this announcement of Nene, which will make the jittery market even more dubious about South Africa’s prospects of shifting economic gears and holding spending.

“He [Zuma] stands between South Africa and economic growth. He has certainly overstayed his welcome and it is he who should go.”

Van Rooyen is South Africa’s third finance minister after Pravin Gordhan and Nene in the last six years.

Trevor Manuel served as finance minister from 1996 to 2009.

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