Jacob Zuma has described South Africans’ reaction over his decision to sack finance minister Nhlanhla Nene as “an exaggeration”. The president said this while speaking to ENCA television aired on Sunday.
“I think there was an exaggeration in terms of the reaction, people didn’t understand what was happening, and they exaggerated the issue,”
The president’s decision to change his finance minister twice in just a week raised alarming criticisms from South Africans and foreign investors leading to financial turmoil in the country.
President Zuma appointed David van Rooyen as finance minister, then after three days he removed David and replaced him with Pravin Gordhan, while equally appointing Van Rooyen to manage the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department.
Speaking on why the rand speedily weakened after his decision to replace Nene, the president refused to connect the failing currency to his political appointment.
“There is no single person who can collapse a department, especially a department like the Treasury, the rand, for an example, had been going down when Nene was there. It had been going down for months and months. It was not triggered by the decision,” he told SABC.
Report has it that the rand rapidly diminished by more than 5 percent immediately Nene was removed from office, and after long criticism, Zuma in December, bowed to pressure within days and appointed Pravin Gordhan, who formerly held the post from 2009 until 2014, to replace Van Rooyen as finance minister
The South African rand has since continued its slide, reaching a new record low on Friday as investors sell out of emerging market assets on worries about a slowdown in China.
Meanwhile, Economist Dawie Roodt yesterday said Zuma was right in saying that the market’s reaction was not about Nene, Gordhan or Van Rooyen.
“It’s about Zuma. The president showed [that] he’s trying to run the state as his own back yard, as his own purse. It’s not about Nene. It’s about him,” he said.