EFF leader Julius Malema has threatened to force Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene to answer questions before the mid-term budget statement in Parliament if President Cyril Ramaphosa does not sack him before it is delivered in two weeks time.
In a letter penned to Ramaphosa, dated October 8, Malema has accused Nene of having “no integrity” after he admitted to a having had number of meetings with the Gupta family during his testimony at the state capture commission of inquiry.
“The Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS), which is supposed to be a statement to build confidence amongst all important economic role players, cannot, and should not, be delivered by a Minister who was part of the Gupta criminal syndicate,” Malema said in his letter.
“The reality is that your minister of finance, Nhlanhla Nene, was friends of the Gupta criminal syndicate, visited them often, discussed sensitive state business with them, and therefore [is] one of the enablers of state capture and corruption,” Malema continued.
Nene, in his testimony at the state capture inquiry last week, confessed to meeting the family at both their Saxonwold compound in Johannesburg and the family-owned Sahara Computers headquarters in Midrand, Gauteng between 2010 and 2014. He had in April 2016 denied ever meeting the Guptas in a TV interview with eNCA.
Malema said that the EFF had tabled questions in Parliament to Nene, which have not yet been answered. He did not clarify in his letter what the questions involved. The EFF leader threatened that if Nene is still finance minister, the EFF will press him to answer the questions before his mid-term budget speech.
“If he remains minister, he might need to respond to our questions just before the MTBPS and should do so with honesty,” Malema said.
Malema said that the letter was an “earnest” request for Ramaphosa to lead the country differently to his predecessor, Jacob Zuma. “Our fundamental political and ideological differences should never be a basis of looking down on our constant prudent advice and guidance on areas of national interest,” Malema said.
Nene apologised to the nation last Friday, saying he should have disclosed “early, and fully, the details of these meetings” with the Gupta family. He denied having benefited from his relationship with the infamous family, and said that he did not do any favours for them, such as release sensitive information.
Nene has been under pressure to resign following his testimony at the state capture inquiry and a report by the Mail & Guardian and Amabhungane. The report revealed that the Public Investment Corporation, which Nene chaired in 2014, “bent over backwards” to help a business partner of Siyabonga Nene (Nhlanhla Nene’s son) in a business venture in Mozambique.
Nene has since asked Ramaphosa to relieve him of his duties, but the Presidency has not made any public comment on the request. But with the mid-term budget looming, Ramaphosa has come under pressure to sack Nene in an effort to continue purging the state of those linked to the Gupta family.
The Democratic Alliance has also weighed in on the matter, saying that Nene should be axed.
DA MP David Maynier said in a statement: “We find it hard to believe that, under the circumstances, the minister has the full support of President Cyril Ramaphosa, who stated in his State of the Nation address on February 16 that ‘this is the year in which we will turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions’.”
“We believe, therefore, that President Cyril Ramaphosa should accept the minister’s offer to resign and act swiftly to replace him before the medium-term Budget policy statement is presented in Parliament,” Maynier continued.
The finance minister, meanwhile, is headed to a meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Indonesia. He is expected to arrive on Wednesday.