CAPE TOWN – The South African Presidency on Saturday denied rumours that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa had threatened to resign in the wake of President Jacob Zuma’s finance minister reshuffle fiasco.
“Deputy President Ramaphosa was and remains part of the government collective that sought to stabilise the Ministry of Finance,” the Presidency said.
The Presidency issued the statement in response to media reports that Ramaphosa was in Lesotho last week when David Van Rooyen, a MP, was sworn in as finance minister.
On 9 December, President Jacob Zuma appointed Van Rooyen to replace Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, a move that created chaos at the market. Four days later, Zuma appointed Pravin Gordhan, then Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, to replace Van Rooyen in a bid to stabilise the market.
Shortly after Zuma replaced Nene, the rumours began circulating that Ramaphosa had threatened to resign.
ANC Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte said then that Ramaphosa went to Lesotho when Van Rooyen was initially sworn in, indicating that the deputy president was unhappy about Van Rooyen’s appointment.
“The Presidency wishes to state that on the day of the swearing in of Mr Van Rooyen as Minister of Finance, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was in consultation with a delegation from the office of the Chairperson of the SADC (Southern African Development Community) Organ Troika and Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi regarding preparations for an urgent visit to the Kingdom of Lesotho,” presidential spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said.
These consultations followed a decision of the SADC Organ Troika held on the margins of the China-Africa Summit held in Johannesburg in early December which decided that Ramaphosa, in his capacity as Facilitator, should visit Lesotho as a matter of urgency, said Kodwa.
The purpose of the visit was to convey SADC’s concerns regarding a court case that had been brought against the SADC Commission of Inquiry by a Lesotho citizen, Kodwa said.
“As a result of those consultations the visit to the Kingdom of Lesotho (by Ramaphosa) went ahead on 16 December,” Kodwa said.
“The Presidency further wishes to state that Deputy President Ramaphosa was involved in all consultations with President Jacob Zuma and all other stakeholders regarding the appointment of Mr David Van Rooyen,” the spokesperson said.
In this context and as stated by the ANC, Ramaphosa led on behalf of African National Congress (ANC) officials the briefing to the ruling party’s National Working Committee outlining the process that led to the reappointment of Gordhan as Minister of Finance, Kodwa said.
“The Presidency is of the view that any other suggestion from the stated facts is nothing but an attempt to create suspicion, sow divisions and mistrust at the highest echelons of government,” said Kodwa.
Also on Saturday, Ramaphosa denied rumours that he had threatened to resign.
“The rumour that I threatened to resign or anyone else threatened to resign is not true. We are together with the president on this issue. We have addressed the challenge that we faced,” he told journalists during a visit to Mmakau, near Ga-Rankuwa, about 37 km north of Pretoria.