Minister Nene told the Zondo commission that former president Jacob Zuma had fabricated his supposed deployment to the Brics Bank. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene told the Zondo commission that former president Jacob Zuma had fabricated his supposed deployment to the Brics Bank when he fired him in December 2015. 

Nene said Zuma had no business deploying him to the bank as he (Zuma) had no authority to do so. 

The minister was detailing the events leading up to his firing as the minister of finance on December 9, 2015. 

A decision that caused a dent in the financial markets after an unknown ANC parliamentary backbencher, Des van Rooyen, was appointed to replace Nene. 

Nene said Zuma had called him into a meeting on December 9, following a Cabinet meeting, and told him that he was to be deployed to the Brics Bank. 

The bank was established after a signed agreement between member countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South African - in June 2014. 

Nene said Zuma spoke in IsiZulu and said the ANC top six had agreed to deploy him to the Brics Bank immediately.  

"He (Zuma) said we discussed this matter with the top six and we agreed that we should put you there. I asked him when the decision was to take effect and he informed me that he would be making an announcement shortly. I thanked the president for having provided me with the opportunity to serve the country as the minister of finance and we shook hands and I left," said Nene. 

He said in the meeting, that took two to three minutes, Zuma did not divulge reasons why he was being removed. 

"There is no protocol [if] you are in a 24-hour notice. He did not provide me with reasons for my removal and I did not ask him for reasons. This was the first and the last time we ever spoke about the position at the Brics Bank," he said. 

Nene said he concluded that Zuma had fabricated the story of his deployment because he had no authority to appoint him in such a position. 

"It's obvious that the deployment to the Brics Bank was a fabrication. I say so because the president had no authority to offer me a position or to deploy me to the position in the Brics Bank. Nor could such an appointment be considered at that stage, at least without due process which also involved other member countries."

"My understanding is that there are formal processes for appointments at the Brics Bank which were followed now that we have appointed someone there. Furthermore, there is a clear line of authority at the Brics Bank, it is the vice-presidents who are responsible for various functions within the banks and appointments at the bank. As a head of state, his role is limited to summits," said Nene. 

The seat of the head of Brics Development Bank remained vacant until this year when former Treasury DDG Monale Ratsoma was appointed in April. 

"The offer did not materialise until I returned as minister of finance and have since appointed the current holder of that position," said Nene. 

The inquiry will resume on October 10 with the testimony of the Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan. 

-BUSINESS REPORT/POLITICS