Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene confessed to secretly meeting the controversial Gupta family at their Saxonwold home. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency/ANA

Johannesburg - Pressure mounted on President Cyril Ramaphosa to sack Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene after he confessed to secretly meeting the controversial Gupta family at their house.

On Monday, EFF leader Julius Malema intensified his push for Nene to be removed in an open letter to Ramaphosa, saying he has a chance to clean up his Cabinet by also firing other tainted ministers.

“We reiterate our position that his continued stay as minister of finance is not in the best interest of South Africa.

"Treasury cannot be presided over by a person without integrity,” Malema said.

“Nene has lied on numerous occasions about his role in the Cabinet and the government. He has also facilitated the capture of the state by the criminal Gupta syndicate.

"He was party to the most unpatriotic state capture by a family of foreign nationals.”

The DA also weighed in on the Nene saga, saying Ramaphosa should drop him from his Cabinet.

DA MP David Maynier, in a statement, said: “We find it hard to believe that, under the circumstances, the minister has the full support of President Cyril Ramaphosa, who stated in his State of the Nation address on February 16 that ‘this is the year in which we will turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions’.

“We believe, therefore, that President Cyril Ramaphosa should accept the minister's offer to resign and act swiftly to replace him before the medium-term Budget policy statement is presented in Parliament.”

The presidency distanced itself from reports suggesting that Nene had asked Ramaphosa to relieve him of his position amid mounting calls for his resignation from opposition parties.

Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko told The Star the office was not aware of Nene's request to be relieved of his duties after he admitted to visiting the Gupta brothers.

Later, Diko said they had been asked not to comment on the matter.

The latest developments take place amid intense scrutiny over the future of Nene, whose sacking by former president Jacob Zuma caused the rand to plummet and ratings agencies to downgrade the economy.

Last week Nene, speaking at the state of capture inquiry, said he had not been honest about his interactions with the Gupta family and, in fact, had met with them numerous times between 2009 to 2014.

SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo said the party was the first organisation to call for an independent judicial commission of inquiry into what it called corporate-capture of the state, "referring to state authorities, accounting officers, public office bearers, board members and executives of state owned entities, among others, who became complicit in acts of corruption, governance decay and maladministration".

Mashilo added that the corruption involved "private corporate interests for their own profit in partnership with their sleeping partners, the captured and/or their family members".

“The SACP fully supports the work of the commission and will make decisions based on its report without fear, favour or prejudice.”

The Academic and Professional Staff Association said while it welcomed Nene’s apology and his taking responsibility for “lying to the public on his interaction with the Gupta family”, it believed this was a smokescreen meant to divert attention away from what had been happening at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).

“Trillions of employees’ pension funds and UIF have been used to subsidise and inject capital into mega projects without following due processes. “It is within this context that we call for the resignation of Minister Nene, chief executive of the PIC Dan Matjila and the entire PIC board.”

Political analyst Thabani Khumalo said by asking the president to relieve him of his position, Nene was being “shrewd by placing Ramaphosa between a rock and a hard place”.

“What about (Malusi) Gigaba and (Bathabile) Dlamini and other discredited ministers?” Khumalo said no one had come forward and provided evidence of any wrongdoing on Nene’s part in his interactions with the Guptas.

“If there is evidence to suggest he was in those meetings to support illegal deals benefiting himself and the government, then that is another issue,” Khumalo said.

Political Bureau