Criticism continues to mount over van Rooyen’s appointment

Cosatu's Sizwe Pamla says President Jacob Zuma has made a 'dangerous' decision.

David van Rooyen was sworn in as South Africa’s new Finance Minister on 10 December, 2015. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Union leaders from across the political spectrum have reacted with shock to the changing of the finance minister by President Jacob Zuma, with Zwelinzima Vavi calling for South Africa to stand up against the leadership, while Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) says it undermines certainty.

The African National Congress (ANC)'s alliance partner says it's shocked and disappointed by the removal of Nhlanhla Nene and says the decision is ill-timed.

Zuma announced the appointment of David van Rooyen as the new minister, and stood beside him as he was sworn in at the Union Buildings this afternoon.

Cosatu's Sizwe Pamla says the president has made a 'dangerous' decision.

"To replace someone and not give adequate reasons with someone who is not necessarily experienced at a time when the economy is really in trouble; it's a dangerous thing that has happened."

Vavi believes Nene was punished for standing up to Zuma's allies in state owned enterprises.

"He was our political opponent but there is one thing we know about him; he was honest. It seemed to us that he's being punished and he's paying the price for standing up to the tsar."

The ANC says the president doesn't need to explain his reasons for appointment or removing ministers.


Cape Town Mayor, Patricia de Lille, earlier used her address in council to thank Nene for his service.

De Lille described Nene as a "constructive partner" in managing funds received by the city from National Treasury.

She says the former minister stood up for the right thing.

"We all know that he did these things against powerful political interests and it's costing his career. We would like to thank him for his contribution."

The banking sector appears to be hardest hit, with FNB and Standard losing about 13 percent of their share prices.

Political analysts say they will now also assess the possible fall-out from Zuma's decision.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga says this could cement the perceptions some people have around the president.

"To have someone like this removed will add to the growing credibility crisis that faces Zuma's administration will continue to experience."

But it could also make life more difficult for the Gauteng ANC.

They are going to be chasing middle class votes in next year's local government elections and councils like Tshwane and Johannesburg are already on a knife edge.

Meanwhile, Gauteng Premier David Makhura has refused to be drawn on Zuma's decision to fire Nene.

Makhura says he will not comment on decisions made concerning the national legislature.

"I'm not the head of national government so I don't want to be drawn into that. I want to focus on what I can do in this province as the biggest economy in the country."