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Explain why Nene was fired, Motlanthe urges

Dec 23 2015 21:30

Cape Town – President Jacob Zuma’s government should explain the rationale for firing Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister, according to former SA president Kgalema Motlanthe.

“All of this has happened so quickly, it leaves you completely stunned as to what to make of it,” Motlanthe told Al Jazeera's Azad Essa on Wednesday.

“The reaction from all quarters is indicative of how dramatic all of this was,” he said. “This is why I am saying it leaves people stunned. It's important to get what the rationale was all about.”

READ: Motlanthe's full Q&A with Al Jazeera

Motlanthe said until Zuma and his government explains the rationale behind his actions, it will be hard to interpret his actions.

Two days after the markets were hammered by Zuma’s decision to replace Nene with David van Rooyen on December 9, Zuma offered an explanation. He said Nene was relieved of his position ahead of a nomination to make him head of the African division of the new Brics bank. Analysts didn't buy it.

“Going on the reaction and response of the markets and civil society, it’s not much that one can rely on,” said Motlanthe. “You need to get the rationale from the decision-makers.”

“You saw [last week] the ANC and Cosatu said they received an explanation, and I am sure at some point, they will explain that with all of us,” he said.

Motlanthe said the position of finance minister is crucial, “because they are responsible for managing the fiscal affairs (and) the overall budget”.

“Under normal circumstances, treasury has to be stable,” he said. “In fact, under normal circumstances, every administration tries to keep treasury as stable as possible.”

Motlanthe said Zuma’s actions affected everyone in the country.

“It's our country. It's our economy,” he said. “We are affected by all of this. Each one of us has to try and do whatever is possible to address the economic challenges. But primarily, the overall mobilisation has got to be coordinated at government level. I am not in government at the moment.”

“I suppose we will have to wait and see as to how it all pans out,” he said. “I have read it in the newspapers that some people are saying they will continue with the demonstrations in the coming year, but we can only wait and see.”

Motlanthe said South Africans should examine “whether we are growing the economy at the pace that matches the new entrance into the labour market each year, and that we are able to address the problem of unemployed young people, joblessness, poverty, inequality”.

“That is how we measure if we are doing well or not, rather than to compare ourselves to any other sister country on the continent, in terms of growing at 6% or 1.4%.”

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