POLITICAL NEWS - Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene’s as yet undisclosed encounters with the infamous Gupta family, his refusal to accede to the nuclear deal and how he was fired from Cabinet by former president Jacob Zuma, to be replaced by relatively unknown Des van Rooyen, are expected to dominate today’s proceedings at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
Unlike former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas, who soon went public with claims of the Guptas offering him a bribe in 2015 providing he accepted the finance minister’s post, Nene has remained tight-lipped on his meetings with them.
His stance has irked Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema, who has branded him as “corrupt” and “captured”.
Nene’s full disclosure before Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on how he was approached by the Guptas when he was deputy finance minister and chairperson of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) will be his response to Malema.
On May 22, the EFF wrote to Nene to enquire about his relationship with the Guptas and the “many instances when he negotiated business dealings with them”, and called on him to step down after his testimony.
The party yesterday said it found Nene’s refusal to answer questions on links with the Guptas to be “against parliamentary rules and practice, which oblige all members of the executive to truthfully and consistently respond to questions asked by members of parliament…
“During the State of the Nation address … Malema cautioned ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa that Nhlanhla Nene was not what the media presented him to be.”
It continued that Nene should honestly respond to the letter “and should he choose not to, then we will expose him”.
The party accused Ramaphosa of not holding his minister “accountable and kept him in office, despite the many wrong things he did as deputy minister of finance”.
“What the Nene developments reveal is that throughout his tenure as deputy minister of finance and chairperson of the PIC, he was captured by the Guptas and worked for them,” the EFF said.
“He negotiated business deals for them and bullied those who sought money from the PIC to submit to the demands of the Guptas. The reason Nene was appointed as minister of finance by a captured Jacob Zuma was because he worked with the Guptas.
“When he was minister of finance, he stopped taking their calls. That is the reason they approached Jonas and later Van Rooyen, because their appointee was no longer cooperative.”
The EFF claimed that when Nene was removed, he “played victim and proclaimed oblivion to the real reason he was fired”.
“What all these developments reveal is that Nene is not an honest and respectable minister,” said the EFF.
With Nene being the first sitting Cabinet minister to testify before the commission, it is expected that several Zuma-era executives, who include premiers, ministers, deputy ministers and captains of state-owned enterprises, will follow.