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Nhlanhla Nene believes he was axed as finance minister in 2015 after he refused to endorse a nuclear deal with Russia that would have cost the equivalent of 90% of the country’s budget this fiscal year. In 2015, the government said the programme would cost about $100bn, which, on the exchange rate at the time, would have been R1.45-trillion. The state’s total budget for this financial year is R1.56-trillion. Other projects favoured by former president Jacob Zuma included a proposed restructuring of a deal between national airline SAA and aircraft manufacturer Airbus. The proposed change, which the Treasury judged would have threatened the financial viability of the airline, was pushed by Dudu Myeni, a Zuma ally who was chair of the SAA board at the time. Nene, who was fired in December 2015 in one of Zuma’s notorious “midnight” reshuffles, was the first cabinet minister to appear at the Zondo commission, which is investigating allegations of widespread corruption and abuse of power ...

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