President Zuma made a declaration on Monday that Van Rooyen is the most qualified person that was ever appointed to the office of the finance minister in South Africa during his tenure.
Zuma was speaking at the inaugural meeting of the Presidential Press Corps (PPC) in Pretoria today where he committed himself to regular and candid briefings with the media.
The president aspires that his relationship with the PPC will allow him to communicate to the people on important issues like his recent appointment and removal of van Rooyen.
“That thing caused such havoc and people think Zuma just woke up one day and took a decision,” Zuma told political reporters and editors at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
“You know Des Rooyen is my comrade, MK for that matter, he’s a trained finance and economic comrade and more qualified than any minister I have ever appointed in the finance issue,” Zuma said.
Last year, the president faced a lot of criticism after he announced that he was replacing Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene with unknown member of the parliament and ANC comrade Van Rooyen.
An outburst of public outcry and condemnations called for Zuma to be recalled over the rash decision he made that saw the rand rally through several record lows.
Four days after the announcement, Zuma changed his mind and replaced Van Rooyen with Pravin Gordhan, a respected former finance minister. The rand recovered somewhat.
In his own defence, Zuma said he was only taking decisions for the nation as president which was his constitutional right.
“They want to take decisions on behalf of the president, at times including some in the media, not everyone,” he said.
“You may not know why I took that decision, you might get very good reasons why, but if you don’t know you speculate on the basis of what you see, when there might be very serious reasons,” he said without much ado.