Listening to yesterday’s testimony by South African finance minister Nhlanhla Nene was riveting. It also forces the rational mind to ponder where the country would be if this modest man from rural KwaZulu Natal hadn’t stood up against the financial wrecking of former president Jacob Zuma and his cronies.
The country was headed the same way as Turkey. And if Edrogan’s example is overlaid on SA, the currency would today be trading around R25 rather than R14 to the US Dollar; and interest rates would certainly be well above 20% - and the stock market (and hence citizens' retirement savings) would be substantially lower.
We got a taste of where the country was heading during two insane trading sessions that followed Zuma’s decision on 9th December 2015 to fire his respected finance minister, an action spooked investors, sending shockwaves through the financial system.
The Rand plummeted, bond prices soared and the stock market tanked. I crunched the numbers and quantifiable losses on stocks and bonds totalled over came to R500bn. Those chaotic few days became known as Nenegate – a crash amplified by Zuma’s replacement of Nene with one of his lackeys, an unknown backbencher.
The tailspin only levelled out after Zuma bowed to pressure from an unusually vocal business lobby and ANC insiders. Against his wishes replaced his Weekend Special finance minister with respected Pravin Gordhan – a man he’d fired a few years before (and was destined to do again 15 months later).
This podcast is based on testimony presented by the man who gave Nenegate its name, who has now spoken publicly of the matter for the first time.
After two years in the political wilderness, he was reinstated as finance minister when new president Cyril Ramaphosa took office in January. Nene spent four and a half hours testifying to the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, headed by SA's Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.