Returning Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has cut a figure of a person content with life in the private sector, but compelled by a sense of duty to serve.
President Cyril Ramaphosa reshuffled his Cabinet Monday night, shifting Malusi Gigaba to the department of home affairs and bringing in Nene to occupy the top job in finance once again. Former president Jacob Zuma fired the new minister in December 2015 and replaced him with Des van Rooyen – who himself did not see out the weekend.
Following his appointment, Nene has revealed that he hesitated to return to the post, but ultimately could not refuse Ramaphosa.
“From the onset I knew that the president had made up his mind and it would not change‚” he told TimesLive. “I tried to resist a little‚ but I knew. He had made up his mind.”
After he wielded the axe in 2015, Zuma had said that a top post at the Brics bank beckoned for Nene. After it failed to come to fruition, Allan Gray instead announced in April 2016 that he would be joining their board as a non-executive director. A few days later Thebe Investment Corporation revealed he had signed on as a resident advisor.
Nene told News24 that “I was very comfortable where I was.”
Asked on the Karima Brown Show if he was happy to be back he replied “not really”.
“When there is work to be done it’s not about you being happy but it’s about being prepared to make a contribution,” he said. “At this time, it’s a tall order but it’s time for all of us to roll up our sleeves.”
Nene further took the opportunity to insist that he will need buy-in from the whole country if the economy is to take a stable path.
“It is going to take collective effort from us to put our economy back on track. It is indeed a continuation of the work that has already begun. Things are not easy and I think we all have to make sacrifices in order to put the economy back on track and benefit not only us but the generations that come after.”