The fired Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene may have been axed for saying no to South African Airways (SAA) Chairperson Dudu Myeni and Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir.
This was indirectly seen as a no to the the President – Jacob Zuma who had made a request that SAA should open a new route to Khartoum in Sudan in order to express support to “his brother” and president of Sudan Omar Al Bashir.
Nene was removed from office four months after he told Dudu Myeni in very clear terms that creating a route to Khartoum would be unprofitable for the country and that he would not allow it.
Nene’s replacement is a clear sign that South Africa has reached a point where politics have begun to rank higher than economics in the president’s decision-making.
Nene was previously seen as an independent figure in the government and a strong critic of Zuma’s spending decisions and actions, especially his plans to bail out struggling South African Airways and invest in an expensive nuclear-energy project.
This act of standing up against some of Zuma’s unscrupulous acts may have hastened Nene’s downfall.
Zuma And Bashir
President Zuma met with Bashir while on a visit to China in September and the reason for their meeting was tagged to “strengthen relations” between the two countries, as stated by the Presidency at the time.
“South Africa and Sudan enjoy warm bilateral relations. Sixteen bilateral agreements have been concluded between the two countries to date.
“South Africa seeks to further strengthen co-operation with Sudan in the fields of agriculture, agro-processing, science and technology, energy, infrastructure development, mining and retail,” the Presidency said in a statement.
Bashir visited South Africa in June last year to attend an African Union summit. The government allowed him to leave, despite a court order from ICC instructing the South African government to detain Bashir. The International Criminal Court wanted him to stand trial on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.