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Zuma: Reaction to sacking finance minister an exaggeration

Jacob Zuma says South Africans and the markets overreacted when he fired Nhlanhla Nene last month.

President Jacob Zuma addresses media at a working lunch for editors hosted at the Presidential Guest House in Pretoria on 8 February 2015. Picture: GCIS.
Jacob Zuma,Nhlanhla Nene,Nhlanhla Nene removed as the finance minister
Business Local Politics

JOHANNESBURG – President Jacob Zuma said the reaction to his decision to sack Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister in December had been an exaggeration.

The president last month changed finance ministers twice in a week, sending the rand plummeting, alarming investors and triggering financial turmoil.

David van Rooyen was appointed as finance minister then reshuffled after three days.

Pravin Gordhan took over as finance minister and van Rooyen took over the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department.

“I think there was an exaggeration in terms of the reaction,” Zuma told ENCA television in an interview aired on Sunday.

The rand rapidly weakened by more than 5 percent after Zuma appointed the relatively unknown and untested David van Rooyen to succeed Nene.

“People didn't understand what was happening, and they exaggerated the issue,” he said in another interview aired by ENCA on Sunday.

“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,” Zuma told SABC.

But Zuma in December bowed to pressure within days and appointed Pravin Gordhan, who held the job from 2009 until 2014, to replace Van Rooyen as finance minister.

The 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.

It is the seventh Cabinet reshuffle since he became president in 2009 and the third since 2014.

(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)


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