The Star Early Edition

Nene didn’t crash rand, racism is not an issue, says Zuma

- LUYOLO MKENTANE

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has lashed out at his detractors for “gross exaggerati­on” over his unpopular decision to fire Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister – a move which wiped billions of rand off the economy last month.

He said the issue of race, too, which exploded on social media last week after black beach-goers in KwaZulu-Natal were called “monkeys” by estate agent Penny Sparrow, had also been exaggerate­d.

Zuma was speaking during a live interview on eNCA yesterday afternoon, following the ANC’s 104th celebratio­ns at Rustenburg in North West on Saturday.

He said the shock removal of Nene, who had enjoyed the respect of global markets, and his replacemen­t with the unknown MP David van Rooyen before replacing him with Pravin Gordhan as third finance minister in almost as many days was “not breaking the economy”, adding that people had exaggerate­d the issue.

“We took a decision that he (Nene) heads the Brics Bank as it needs an experience­d person. If you took Van Rooyen, people would have said: ‘ How can you take a fellow who’s not a minister to run a bank?’” Zuma said.

“There was overreacti­on to that issue. It’s an exaggerati­on.”

When asked if he took full responsibi­lity for the mess following Nene’s axing, Zuma did not answer the question directly, saying instead the markets had reacted in “a funny way” when Trevor Manuel was appointed finance minister.

Zuma attributed the weak rand to the global economic meltdown, saying the problem had been continuing for several years.

“Investors must not sit hesitantly. They must be involved in growing the economy. In the area of investment, we are absolutely clear. We have a plan,” Zuma added.

On racism, Zuma said the government had defeated the social ill when the ruling party pursued its agenda of non-racialism.

However, with time, people tended to exaggerate the issue of race, he said.

The country needed to be schooled on the issue of race to rid itself of those who lived in the past.

Zuma said people needed to work together to stop racist thinking and to close the economic gap between blacks and whites.

The implementa­tion of black economic cmpowermen­t policies was moving very slowly, he said, adding that the government looked at industrial­isation in order to open up the economy for blacks to participat­e.

“But we have not succeeded in changing the (face of the) economy. If the minority owns the economy, it influences the direction of a country,” the president said.

There were programmes in place to deal with parastatal­s, including Eskom, South African Airways and the SA Post Office.

It was resolved that the three state-owned enterprise­s should be put “under special eye”, and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was in charge of that.

“Today people forget there was load shedding. The Post Office and SAA are being dealt with. There are plans being implemente­d,” he said, adding that the turnaround strategy for SAA had been delayed in its implementa­tion.

The government was also serious about fighting corruption, with more than 200 employees having been dismissed already. But people did not notice this achievemen­t due to political reasons, Zuma said.

He was also not bothered by his questionab­le relationsh­ip with the powerful Gupta family, owners of The New Age newspaper and television station ANN7.

He said the family had always been friends of the presidents of this country.

 ??  ?? ‘WHAT’S THE FUSS?’: President Jacob Zuma at the Royal Bafokeng stadium near Rustenburg during the ANC’s 104th birthday celebratio­ns at the weekend. He played down the axing of Nhlanhla Nene.
PICTURE: MASI LOSI
‘WHAT’S THE FUSS?’: President Jacob Zuma at the Royal Bafokeng stadium near Rustenburg during the ANC’s 104th birthday celebratio­ns at the weekend. He played down the axing of Nhlanhla Nene. PICTURE: MASI LOSI

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