Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has told the ongoing Commission of Inquiry into State Capture that his refusal to approve a multi-billion nuclear deal with Russia and the South African Airways turnaround strategy led to former president Jacob Zuma dismissing him in December 2015.
Nene told the commission that is sitting in Johannesburg that the projects “may have benefited the Gupta family and other close associates of the president”.
“I believe that I was removed from office because of my refusal to toe the line in relation to certain projects,” Nene said in his statement to the commission sitting in Johannesburg on Wednesday, 3 October 2018.
Nene said the nuclear deal and funding for SAA, like other procurement processes within government and state-owned companies, “were subject to intense scrutiny by National Treasury.”
“The minister of finance works under pressure, particularly when it comes to approving decisions that would have implications for the fiscus,” Nene said.
He added: “This is why the optimal relationship is for any minister of finance to have the full support of the president at all times,” which was not the case with Zuma due to his close relations with the Guptas, whom he proudly described as family friends.
Former President Jacob Zuma announced the establishment of the commission in January 2018 as recommended by former Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela in a damning report on corrupt dealings by the ex-president.
Findings made by Madonsela’s “State of Capture” report published in 2016 include potential ethical violations and conflicts of interest in Zuma’s conduct and potential violation of the Executive Ethics Code by sharing information about the appointment of ministers with the Gupta family.