South Africa's anti-graft body to investigate finance minister

Daniel Mminele

South Africa's former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene looks on ahead of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry probing state capture in Johannesburg, South Africa October 3, 2018.

The office of the Public Protector said on Tuesday it would look into a complaint by the main opposition Democratic Alliance party about the investment, carried out when Nene was chairman of the fund and deputy finance minister.

Nene is a key ally of Ramaphosa, who reappointed him finance minister in a cabinet reshuffle shortly after he became president earlier this year.

"As former governor of the reserve bank, Mr Mboweni brings to this position vast experience in areas of finance, economic policy as well as in governance", he said.

But Nene apologized last week after telling a commission of inquiry about visits that he made years ago to the businesses and home of the Gupta family, who along with Zuma deny any wrongdoing.

At the graft inquiry, Nene accused Zuma of pushing policies created to benefit the Guptas, including a massive nuclear power expansion programme.

"I was wrong in meeting the Guptas at their residence", he said.

"Mr Nene served the people and government of South Africa with diligence and ability", Ramaphosa told reporters in Cape Town. "I deeply regret these lapses and beg your forgiveness".

He says Nene's decision to step down in the wake of what he called "errors of judgement" was a mark of his character and commitment to the country's interests.

"Public servants at all spheres and levels of government will have no obligation to responsibly manage state fiscal resources under a compromised minister of finance, " Malema said.

This, as EFF leader Julius Malema challenged the president on Monday to accept Nene's resignation.

The party said it would have been better if Nene had acknowledged all the Gupta meetings from the onset but said the important thing was that he had taken responsibility for his weakness and resigned.

Nene said he believed he was sacked because he refused to "toe the line" on projects, including a since-abandoned deal for nuclear energy, that may have benefited the Gupta family and other Zuma associates. Jonas, Mboweni and Kganyago didn't answer calls to their mobile phones.

Weekend reports indicated that Nene's future as finance minister was on shaky ground following his admission to the meetings, with some claiming Gauteng finance MEC Barbara Creecy could be his replacement. He served as labour minister in the cabinet of former president Nelson Mandela in the mid-1990s and was widely praised for his work as the governor of the South African Reserve Bank from 1999 to 2009.

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