The FW de Klerk Foundation has weighed in on the dismissal of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister, saying it “may signal a catastrophic turning point for South Africa’s already ailing economy”.

In a statement, the foundation said that the ministry of finance and the Treasury had thus far been “the main – and perhaps the last – bulwarks against unrestrained and profligate state expenditure”.

“Minister Nene has maintained probity in the management of state finances and tried, with courage and distinction, to hold the line against irresponsible state expenditure.”

The foundation added that it believed Nene’s opposition to President Jacob Zuma’s R1-trillion nuclear reactor deal with Russia and his firm line “countermanding the highly suspect plans of the SAA board chairperson, Dudu Myeni, to reopen complex contracts for new aircraft” had led to his dismissal.

“Ms Myeni, a close confidante of President Zuma, is also the chairperson of the Jacob G Zuma Foundation.

“The President has a constitutional right to appoint and dismiss cabinet ministers. However, his decision to dismiss Minister Nene and to appoint in his place an inexperienced and virtually unknown backbencher, David van Rooyen, is a matter for the deepest concern.”

Zuma shocked the country late on Wednesday by announcing that Nene would be sacked and replaced with the relatively unknown Van Rooyen.

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