Trevor Manuel, Floyd Shivambu – exposing Guptas as puppeteers in #Nenegate

Former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel may hate to think so, but his open letter to City Press over the weekend supports the EFF’s damning analysis of why President Jacob Zuma’s fired Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene. Manuel penned the letter to small business minister Lindiwe Zulu. But in reality he is attacking Zuma’s leadership, airing growing disquiet within ANC members that the State has been hijacked by external puppet masters. Manuel doesn’t mention the Gupta family by name, but asks pointed questions whose answers are sure to expose the back story to Zuma’s indefensible decision. Like, why is Van Rooyen, a man outside the ANC’s top 115 and one Manuel hardly noticed during years together on ANC benches, suddenly positioned as a “rising star”? Why did Van Rooyen’s friends know months ago – and cabinet didn’t – the underwhelming former mayor from the North West province was set for the big time? Who who appointed Van Rooyen’s two “advisors” that accompanied him to Treasury a day after Zuma’s blunder? The EFF’s Floyd Shivambu answers these questions in his hard hitting analysis for the Daily Maverick. Shivambu argues that as with unknown new mining minister Mosebenzi Zwane, Van Rooyen’s appointment was merely further confirmation that “South Africa is under the management of the Guptas“. It is in the nature of any network of patronage that the one dispensing largesse be defended at all costs. So we shouldn’t be surprised at Lindiwe Zulu’s attack on the business community. In the limited understanding of her portfolio (she’s a lifelong bureaucrat) Zulu believes had “business” supported Van Rooyen’s appointment none of the fallout would have happened. Her idiocy was clearly a step too far for Manuel, who grew from a political activist with huge distrust of the market-based system into one of the most respected Finance Ministers anywhere. South Africa is fortunate to have the likes of Manuel and fellow ANC members Barbara Hogan, Ben Turok and Adam Habib who have called for Zuma’s head. But a deeply entrenched patronage network doesn’t unravel overnight,. As Lindiwe Zulu’s spirited defence shows us, those who have gotten used to plundering the public purse won’t leave the stage without a fight. Including Zuma. – Alec Hogg

By News24 Correspondent

Johannesburg – Former finance Minister Trevor Manuel on Sunday appeared to hint that an “outside hand” was involved in Nhlanhla Nene’s dismissal from the same position.

Nhlanhla Nene, South Africa's former finance minister, speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in London, U.K. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Nhlanhla Nene, South Africa’s former finance minister, speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in London, U.K. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

“It cannot be correct that there is an outside hand (and not the ruling party) that knows more than Cabinet does about unfolding events,” said Manuel in an open letter, addressed to Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, and published in the City Press newspaper.

“From what I have heard, the removal of Mr Nene, from his position both as minister of finance and as a Cabinet minister came as a complete shock to too many,” said Manuel.

During a Cabinet briefing on December 9 no mention was made of the impending removal of Nene.

About two hours later, President Jacob Zuma issued a statement, announcing his decision to remove Nene as finance minister and replace him with the relatively unknown David ‘Des’ Van Rooyen.

The move sent shockwaves through the country and resulted in the rand plummeting.

Two days after Nene’s removal, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe told reporters that Cabinet had been in the dark regarding the sacking.

“At the conclusion of the Cabinet meeting, there was no new finance minister and there was no way we could have predicted,” Radebe told reporters in Pretoria.

“I don’t think Cabinet had an idea that there was going to be a reshuffle because this was the president’s prerogative,” he said.

Manuel, said that what was made “clear from comments by Cabinet colleagues in the wake of Mr Nene’s dismissal was that when cabinet adjourned at about 6pm on Wednesday, December 9, neither he nor Cabinet had any inkling of what was to follow that evening.”

Manuel said that it appeared as if the dismissal of Nene “shook the trust of the Cabinet collective at its roots”.

“The saga of dismissing a competent minister and replacing him without warning or explanation led to a complete breakdown in trust…

“If the view holds, the trust is not broken only with Cabinet of course; it is also broken with the ANC, with the broader South African electorate, with the markets and the entity you call ‘business’,” said Manuel, addressing Zulu directly.

“The breach of trust was not the first, but perhaps the last, straw that broke the camel’s back in the careless handling of a pivotal portfolio.”

Manuel also pointed out that it was curious that in a Saturday Star report, published shortly after Van Rooyen’s appointment, both his brother and a childhood friend Gaddafi Rabotapi suggested that they had previous knowledge of his impending appointment.

At the time, Rabotapi told the newspaper that he had known about the appointment for some months.

“What entitled Mr Rabotapi, as a non-member of Cabinet to know this?,” asked Manuel.

Manuel also pointed out that when Van Rooyen arrived at Treasury – a day after his appointment was announced – he already had two advisers with him. “How did he acquire their services even before he had been sworn in as minister?”

Although at first, following Nene’s sacking, the Presidency issued a statement saying that Zuma was not obliged to give a reason, it later backtracked with a statement by Zuma explaining that the removal of Nene was so that he could be put forward for a position at the Brics Bank.

However, in his open letter, Manuel dismissed this reasoning: “The suggestion by the president that Mr Nene was destined for some undefined post in the New Development Bank just does not wash.

“In fact, that assignment is unlikely to be even 15 percent of the size that which he so ably performed as minister of finance.”

Read also: Zuma’s damage control – too little, too late; an insult to SA intelligence

While Manuel praised Nene as “thoroughly decent, smart, diligent and more than capable”, he suggested Van Rooyen was somewhat forgettable. “Even I, as an MP for the period he served in Parliament from 2009–2014, when he was my fellow ANC member, battled to recall who he was.”

As such, said Manuel, “subsequent attempts by various people in the ANC to justify his appointment as that of a rising star… fall flat” and consequently “the issue of contention and disbelief was never about having Mr Van Rooyen, it was about the summary dismissal of Mr Nene”.

David van Rooyen, South Africa's incoming finance minister, pauses during his swearing in ceremony at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015. The rand fell for a sixth day in the longest streak of losses since November 2013, stocks slid and bond prices tumbled the most on record after South African President Jacob Zuma fired Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and replaced him with a little-known lawmaker. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg
David van Rooyen, South Africa’s shortest serving finance minister, is the minister of COGTA.. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Four days after his appointment, Van Rooyen was removed from his new position by Zuma and replaced with previous finance minister Pravin Gordhan.

Last week, ANC veteran Barbara Hogan called on the party’s members to speak out against the decision.

“If ANC members are worth their salt, they have to start looking very carefully and introspectively… about our roles in this organisation and what we are giving consent to by allowing this president to operate as though he is completely unaccountable…

“Luthuli House needs to hear loud and clear that this man has to be held to account and we need people, men and women of good standing and stature, to do that job.”

In his letter, Manuel said that until now he had chosen to decline commenting on the shuffling of finance ministers. “It is not that I’ve not had opinions, but I chose to remain silent.”

South African minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu
South African minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu

Manuel criticised Zulu for what he termed “reckless comments” she made to the Mail and Guardian newspaper this week, in which she seemed to lay blame at business for their lack of support for Zuma following the ministry reshuffling and the subsequent economic fallout.

“Business wrote off President Jacob Zuma a long time ago. They long decided that this is the person they don’t want,” she was quoted as saying.

She later told EWN that she had been quoted out of context.

However, Manuel counteracted suggesting that Zulu was “plainly wrong in your assumptions about the roles, responsibilities and attitudes of business”.

He said that the path forward was to “repair the trust, the legitimacy, and, if you must, the obedience of the governed.

“In my limited view, it is possible for autocrats to rule, but not for democrats to govern without the vital ingredient of trust.”

Manuel ended his letter with “comradely greetings”. – News24

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