I arrived on 13 December 2015 amidst a national upheaval after President Zuma in all his infinite wisdom had decided to fire Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene and appoint David van Rooyen in his place. This shock announcement, much against the will of members of the ANC, caused the Rand to plummet to a low of 17 to the Euro from the previous 13. This little move cost the country billions and left the people disgruntled with the hashtag #Zumamustfall in a Twitter war of words with #HandsoffZuma.
In a cowardly backpedal, and thank heavens he did, he retracted his decision, fired Van Rooyen and put Pravin Gordhan back in office after having previously served in the role with a track record of lifting South Africa out of recession. What a fiasco leaving Zuma with no credibility whatsoever. He has clearly shown that he doesn’t like to be criticised, the result of which might cost you your job. Nene unfortunately was not aware that this was not a democratic country and that his refusal to dole out money for a new private jet for the President would mean his demise in his role as Finance Minister. This was apparently not the only reason. He interfered with South African Airways’ decision to restructure their re-fleeting agreement with Airbus, again costing the country a lot of money. Here I have to add, Dudu Myeni is Chairperson of the Board and happens to be Zuma’s girlfriend. Surprise, surprise. Grant it, Nene was not the greatest but he was also not the worst.
Putting David (‘Des’) van Rooyen in his stead would have meant complete disaster for the economy. With no training in finance and a crony of Zuma’s, the chances of him saying ‘NO’ to anything his master decreed, would have been pretty much zero. So it was up to the President to juggle the balls and find out which one would be to his greatest benefit: keeping a lackey in office or losing the next election or worse still, being thrown out of office and losing all that yummy luxury that he now so enjoys at the expense of his people. He seemed to think the latter might be worse and hence the reintroduction of Gordhan.
What he doesn’t seem to realise is that the boat may have floated already and the damage is irreversible despite the slight increase in the strength of the rand. It is now up to the people to change the status quo of the uneducated tribesman and villain they have elected which will certainly bring about a huge crash since he’ll not go alone. He’ll take all his buddies with him and South Africa will need a new government.