Nhlanhla Nene asks President Ramaphosa to relieve him of his duties

Dr. Zweli Mkhize

There are reports that Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to relieve him of his duties following his appearance before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture last week.

Nene has been under enormous pressure to resign.

ANC officials are believed to be discussing Nene at a retreat‚ which ends today.

"South Africa is undergoing serious economic difficulties and massive job losses, and one of the ingredients towards economic recovery is a credible Minister of Finance", said Julius Malema, head of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters.

His removal as finance minister by then president Jacob Zuma in 2015 further gained him public sympathy as this was seen as a punishment for his refusal to play along with Zuma's plan to turn national treasury into a private empowerment scheme for himself; his Gupta friends and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

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Nene also told the state-capture inquiry that he was sacked by Zuma in December 2015 for blocking deals that would have benefited the Guptas, particularly a $100 billion nuclear power deal with Russian Federation that could have crippled Africa's most developed economy.

"These visits do cast a shadow on my conduct as a public office bearer", Nene said in a statement on Friday of the visits to the Guptas residence in earlier stints as deputy finance minister and finance minister. "I deeply regret these lapses and beg your forgiveness".

In a detailed response to questions from the Sunday Times, Nene said he did not think that the meetings he had had with the Guptas were relevant for the objective his my appointment but "looking back I should have informed the president then, or subsequently".

The Business Day newspaper reported on Monday that Nene asked Ramaphosa, who appointed him finance minister previous year, to relieve him of his duties over the weekend.

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