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Shock & bewilderment after Nene’s sacking

President Jacob Zuma removed the finance minister from his post & replaced him with David van Rooyen.

Former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Investors and economists say they're in shock this morning after President Jacob Zuma fired Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene on Wednesday night.

The Presidency announced Nene would now be deployed to what it calls a strategic post.

Last week, Nene told South African Airways (SAA) Chairman Dudu Myeni she should not go ahead with a planned new deal with Airbus.

Myeni is also the chair of the Jacob Zuma Foundation.

Former Merafong Mayor David van Rooyen is the new finance minister.

But Nomura economist Peter Attard Montalto says that the timing of Nene's firing is very odd.

"The fact that it's happened now, so soon after a downgrade by ratings, where Nene was actually praised for his handling of fiscal issues, really is very strange and very odd timing indeed."

Economist Thabi Leoka says it's a hard decision to understand.

"The timing is really bad. We don't know Mr van Rooyen. He didn't work within National Treasury."

There will be speculation Nene has been fired for challenging Myeni, who has also been accused of having now Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba fired from his former position of Public Enterprises Minister.

ANC REACTS

The African National Congress (ANC) Zuma does not have to explain his reasoning behind removing the now former finance minister.

The party's Keith Khoza says van Rooyen's experience as the party's National Assembly whip for the finance portfolio and the caucus' economic transformation cluster will be beneficial in his new post.

He says Nene will be reassigned to another position in due time.

Khoza says Zuma exercised his constitutional prerogative by removing Nene.

"The president does not have to explain. We will respect it and want to leave it there."

POLITICAL ANALYSIS

Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni says the timing of Nene's removal is strange, and the president will have a hard time trying to convince the country to back him up.

Economist Dawie Roodt says the timing is awkward considering Nene's warning to the SAA board, adding it's no secret that Zuma has close ties to the SAA board.

Fikeni agrees with these sentiments.

"Now that there were reported tensions. To that extent, I think the president will have it very difficult to encourage people not to think of that connection."