JZ un­der fire from all sides

Mem­bers of the ANC and other prom­i­nent peo­ple speak out about the pres­i­dent’s de­ci­sion to axe fi­nance min­is­ter

CityPress - - News - HLENGIWE NHLA­BATHI hlengiwe.nhla­bathi@city­press.co.za

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s re­moval of Nh­lanhla Nene has led to the most bit­ing crit­i­cism di­rected to date at a sit­ting demo­cratic pres­i­dent – and it’s come from fel­low ANC mem­bers and big busi­ness. Cur­rent and for­mer ANC lead­ers, as well as gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, this week had the guts to openly dis­agree with Zuma’s de­ci­sion to fire Nene and re­place him with David “Des” van Rooyen.

Busi­ness Lead­er­ship SA, rep­re­sent­ing close to 80 ma­jor com­pa­nies, put out a state­ment say­ing: “The re­place­ment of an ef­fec­tive and trusted min­is­ter just 18 months into his term has raised doubts about our abil­ity to main­tain pru­dent macroe­co­nomic poli­cies.”

A min­is­ter in for­mer pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela’s gov­ern­ment, Jay Naidoo, was among those who took to Twit­ter to vent about Zuma’s “stupid de­ci­sion”.

“I have known Nene for many years. I have never doubted his abil­ity or his in­tegrity. This is a stupid de­ci­sion. [An] un­be­liev­able de­ci­sion that is cer­tainly not in our na­tional in­ter­est,” tweeted Naidoo, the found­ing gen­eral sec­re­tary of labour fed­er­a­tion Cosatu and chair of the Global Al­liance for Im­proved Nu­tri­tion.

Speak­ing on Fri­day at the Clare­mont Main Road Mosque, for­mer pub­lic en­ter­prises min­is­ter Bar­bara Ho­gan said: “This week, a line was crossed in an ar­bi­trary act” by Zuma in dis­miss­ing Nene.

She also said the ap­point­ment of Van Rooyen was about Zuma pur­su­ing his per­sonal in­ter­ests.

“Our Na­tional Trea­sury is in­ter­na­tion­ally re­spected. Thus our high rat­ings. Now we have some­one who will do Zuma’s bid­ding,” she said.

Ho­gan also urged “hon­est peo­ple” in the ANC to “take our or­gan­i­sa­tion back from the thieves”.

“This coun­try has a huge po­ten­tial and peo­ple looked up to us. The thieves are tak­ing over. Enough is enough,” she said. Zuma fired Ho­gan in 2010. Ed­u­ca­tion MEC Panyaza Le­sufi also dis­agreed with Zuma’s de­ci­sion to re­place Nene with Van Rooyen, a rel­a­tively un­known and ju­nior back­bencher in Par­lia­ment. Le­sufi took to Face­book just hours af­ter Zuma an­nounced his de­ci­sion, and voiced his shock and un­hap­pi­ness with this tweet: “I don’t agree. #No.” Many oth­ers shared this sen­ti­ment. Among

them were Na­tional Trea­sury of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing a chief au­dit ex­ec­u­tive. But oth­ers cau­tioned Le­sufi against be­ing an illd­is­ci­plined ANC mem­ber.

“You ought to agree ... ours is to rally be­hind the de­ci­sion taken. It’s our tra­di­tion,” one of his com­rades said. Le­sufi re­torted: “Un­for­tu­nately, I don’t agree.” An­other ANC loy­al­ist who broke ranks was Shaka Sisulu, who, in a string of posts on Twit­ter, voiced his dis­dain for Zuma’s de­ci­sion. He said the ANC was neutered and not in con­trol.

Sisulu was among those who were hand-picked to re­vive the ANC Youth League af­ter its ex­ec­u­tive was dis­banded in 2013. He is the grand­son of for­mer ANC stal­wart and icon Wal­ter Sisulu, and his fa­ther is for­mer Na­tional Assem­bly speaker Max Sisulu.

“I’m go­ing to be an ass and break ranks with most of my com­rades’ pub­lic ut­ter­ances. I don’t agree with last night’s sud­den cab­i­net reshuf­fle,” tweeted Sisulu.

“I’m not sure what pre-empted it. There is a ca­coph­ony of loud as­sump­tions. And that’s the prob­lem with the Ex­ec­u­tive’s vague state­ment last night.

“What I found most dis­turb­ing was my or­gan­i­sa­tion’s state­ment. It spoke vol­umes & said noth­ing. It didn’t wel­come it. But didn’t ques­tion it ei­ther,” he tweeted on Thurs­day.

“My ANC sounded neutered. As if the Ex­ec­u­tive is not com­pelled to ac­count to it. Even though the party de­ployed the Ex­ec­u­tive. I agree that the Ex­ec­u­tive is not re­quired to take us into its con­fi­dence. But it is re­quired to re­tain the con­fi­dence of the cit­i­zenry.

“Out of the myr­iad of things that have been com­mu­ni­cated in the past 24 hours, the most dis­tress­ing is that the ANC is no longer in con­trol. Com­rades of the move­ment are go­ing to have to wipe the façade of [sic] their faces and re­assert the cen­tral­ity of the move­ment in de­ci­sion-mak­ing,” he wrote.

An open let­ter, signed by prom­i­nent in­di­vid­u­als in­clud­ing for­mer Na­tional Prose­cut­ing Au­thor­ity head Vusi Pikoli, for­mer Cosatu gen­eral sec­re­tary Zwelinz­ima Vavi, the di­rec­tor of Busi­ness Lead­er­ship SA Bo­nang Mo­hale and busi­ness­man Reuel Khoza, was ad­dressed to Zuma and warned him that his de­ci­sion had al­ready sent neg­a­tive sig­nals to the econ­omy and in­ter­na­tional in­vestors.

“We ap­peal that Trea­sury be in­su­lated from po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­di­ence, es­pe­cially be­cause this is the most im­por­tant in­sti­tu­tion to safe­guard macroe­co­nomic sta­bil­ity, a prime driver of con­fi­dence in the econ­omy and a crit­i­cal agency to guar­an­tee fis­cal sus­tain­abil­ity for fu­ture generations,” they wrote (See page 4 of Voices).

ANC mem­bers, some of whom serve in pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, used so­cial me­dia to ques­tion how ANC lead­ers could sit by and al­low one man to do as he pleased. They dared them to “come col­lect their mem­ber­ship and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine”.

Bar­bara Ho­gan

Panyaza Le­sufi

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