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Nene's fall shows Zondo Commission reaches beyond the 'usual suspects' - analyst

Oct 10 2018 14:38
Carin Smith

Nhlanhla Nene was a great finance minister and his fall should be seen as part of a "complex story" of realignment around the ANC, political analyst Ralph Mathekga said on Wednesday.

He was speaking at a business breakfast hosted by Decision Makers in Cape Town, a day after President Ramaphosa accepted Nene's resignation

"In my view, if Nene were maintained, it would have been difficult for Ramaphosa to drive anti-corruption in the ANC," said Mathekga. "The Nene case is an indication that the Zondo Commission on state capture will not only compromise the 'usual suspects'."

'Golden handshakes' will prevail

Mathekga thinks that to "buy back" the legitimacy of public institutions like state-owned enterprises, golden handshakes will be the order of the day.

"It is naïve of us to think people will just go to jail. There is such a big grey area. But I think Ramaphosa is coming on very well. With the Nene saga he has been able to take a crisis and turn it around speedily. Within a week of the Nene story coming out we have Tito Mboweni as new minister of finance," said Mathekga.

In his view, the quick removal of Nene could mean that Ramaphosa is willing to remove anyone who is controversial. "I think a lot is still to come regarding people who had contact with the controversial (Gupta) family," he said.

Ramaphosa on Tuesday accepted Nene's resignation and appointed former SA Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni as his successor. This followed Nene’s testimony before the Zondo Commission on state capture last week, in which he revealed he had met with the Guptas several times between 2009 and 2014. He had not previously disclosed these meetings. 

In announcing his acceptance of Nene's resignation on Tuesday in Cape Town, Ramaphosa said Nene felt there was a "risk that the developments around his testimony" would detract from government's task of trying to re-establish public trust.

Ramaphosa said on these grounds, and in the interest of good governance, he accepted the finance minister's resignation.

According to Ramaphosa, Nene had served the government and people of SA with diligence and "under difficult circumstances", and he had come under "great pressure".

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