High-profile South Africans pen open letter to Zuma

The group laments Zuma’s decision to fire Nhlanhla Nene, saying the impacts will take years to reverse.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - A group of high-profile South Africans including Professor Barney Pityana, Bonang Mohale, Prince Mashele, Lawson Naidoo and Mark Heywood have written an open letter to President Jacob Zuma, lamenting his decision to fire Nhlanhla Nene, saying it will take years or even decades to reverse.

The letter was written after David van Rooyen was sworn in as Nene's replacement, but before the Pravin Gordhan development, in a decision that the signatories say sent negative signals to investors around the world.

Last night, the president changed his mind, reappointing Gordhan as minister of finance and moving van Rooyen to the cooperative governance and traditional affairs department.

The open letter begins by saying that public confidence in government has waned under Zuma due to the number of scandals he's been associated with.

Pityana now says he's relieved that Zuma decided to reappoint Gordhan to the finance department.

"It's a relief compared to where we were. We're hoping that this will bring some stability to our economic management team."

But he still believes that the campaign calling on Zuma to step down should continue.

"It doesn't take away from the fact that we actually do have an incompetent president. Because if it's not Nene today, it will be somebody else tomorrow."

Many of the signatories have also called for a march to the Union Buildings, but it's unclear if this will still go ahead.

To read the open letter, click here.