This report has since been refuted by the president’s office, where Ramaphosa’s spokeswoman, Khusela Diko, said: “We are not aware of minister Nene asking to be relieved of his duties”.
Some serious questions need to be asked. Who stands to benefit from Nene’s removal as finance minister? If allegations that Nene asked to be relieved of his duties are true, it will serve as a major blow to the ANC ahead of the elections in 2019.
The fact is Nhlanhla Nene lied to the nation about his interactions with the Guptas.
Another fact is that the top six of the ANC NEC has, in some way, shape or form, paid visits to the Gupta compound in Saxonwold.
Ramaphosa will be faced with a massive conundrum if he allows Nene to fall on his sword. It means that a significant portion of the ANC NEC would have to follow suit.
If that happens, then a whole bunch of ministers and deputy ministers in the ANC-led government would have to fall, throwing South African politics into a tailspin.
On the other hand, opposition political parties such as the EFF and the DA have smelled blood and are going for the kill.
If the president gives in and succumbs to political pressure by axing Nene, 2019 is going to be an extremely tough year for him.
On the face of it, it looks like it will be very difficult for the president to appoint a minister from the ANC’s NEC who has not been tainted with the Gupta brush.