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Public Protector’s office considering probing Nene over Gupta meetings - DA

The Democratic Alliance (DA) asked the Public Protector to investigate Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.

Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Democratic Alliance (DA) asked the Public Protector to investigate Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.

The party believes that he may have breached the executive code of ethics.

DA MP David Maynier says the Public Protector's office has confirmed to him that the Chapter Nine entity will consider the matter.

“The alleged breach of the executive code of ethics relates to allegations surrounding a Public Investment Corporation investment in S&S Refinarias, which reportedly included a R1.7 billion referral fee, which may have benefited the minister’s son, Siyabonga Nene.”

The DA’s applying even more pressure on an already embattled Nene.

The rand fell more than 1% when the Business Day newspaper reported that Nene had asked Ramaphosa to remove him after the Finance Minister admitted to visiting the home of the Guptas, friends of scandal-plagued former leader Jacob Zuma.

Nene has become a divisive figure after testimony he gave last week at an inquiry into allegations of corruption by the Guptas, in which he admitted to the previously undisclosed visits. He made a public apology about the matter on Friday.

Zuma and the Guptas, who face numerous allegations of using their friendship for mutual self-enrichment, have consistently denied any wrongdoing.

Business Day cited unidentified government sources as saying that Nene made the request to Ramaphosa at the weekend.

Nene did not answer calls for comment.

The public inquiry headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo is reviewing allegations that three Gupta brothers — Atul, Ajay and Rajesh — unduly influenced Zuma about political appointments and the awarding of government contracts.

The inquiry was set up on the recommendation of a 2016 report, entitled “State of Capture”, into alleged influence-peddling in Zuma’s administration by the Public Protector, South Africa’s main anti-corruption authority.
Opposition parties have called for Nene’s resignation.

KEY ALLY

Nene is a key ally of President Cyril Ramaphosa, who reappointed him finance minister in a Cabinet reshuffle shortly after he became president earlier this year.

Ramaphosa’s stated commitment to boosting growth and stamping out graft has gone down well with foreign investors and ANC members, who felt Zuma’s handling of the economy could seriously damage the party in the 2019 national elections.

Asked about the reports that Nene had requested to be relieved from his position, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said: “Let’s wait and see what happens.”

Gordhan, who is a former finance minister and close ally to Ramaphosa, is attending a conference in London.

Nene told the inquiry he was fired by Zuma in December 2015 for blocking deals that would have benefited the Guptas, particularly a $100 billion nuclear power deal with Russia that could have crippled Africa’s most developed economy.

But Nene’s opponents say he was involved in corrupt deals with the Guptas when he was deputy finance minister and head of the state pension fund. He denies ever helping the Guptas.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

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