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Fri Jul 29 18:00:50 SAST 2016

Zuma defends his choice of Van Rooyen

TMG Digital | 22 February, 2016 15:17
South Africa’s Justice Sisi Khampepe swears in David van Rooyen as the new Minister of Finance while President Jacob Zuma looks on.
Image by: EPA/Elmond Jiyane

Having so far managed to evade questions regarding his rapid reshuffling of finance ministers in December last year‚ President Jacob Zuma said on Monday that his first choice for the position‚ Des van Rooyen‚ was “the most qualified finance minister I’ve appointed”.

Speaking at the first meeting of the Presidential Press Corps (PPC) in Pretoria on Monday‚ Zuma said Van Rooyen had been his comrade in Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK)‚ and was better qualified than anyone else to be finance minister.

According to a report on Eyewitness News‚ Zuma said: “You know van Rooyen is my comrade‚ MK for that matter. He is a trained finance and economic comrade and more qualified than any minister I have ever appointed‚ in the finance issue.”

Despite overwhelming interest in the reasons behind Zuma’s reshuffle last December‚ the president has so far failed to throw any light on the decision‚ neglecting to do so even at last week’s debate on the state of the nation address.

Zuma has been accused of carrying out an agenda that would benefit the Gupta family‚ which has many interests across the South African economy. The choice of Van Rooyen shook the markets‚ and commentators speculated that he had been picked by the Gupta family to ease their own interests. But Zuma denied the notion.

“That thing caused such havoc. People think Zuma just woke up one day and took a decision somewhere. Some have got their own reason that he was told by some people.”

Zuma’s remarks come as Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is preparing to deliver his Budget speech on Wednesday.

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