Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

President Cyril Ramaphosa has deflected questions on the future of finance minister Nhlanhla Nene‚ saying he was "hard of hearing".

Ramaphosa avoided the questions during a ceremony to unveil a presidential commemorative stamp in his honour as part of the South African Post Office's World Post Day celebrations, at his Cape Town office of Tuynhuys.

But journalists were more interested in the president's views on the fate of Nene amid growing calls for him to be axed following his public apology over his meetings with the Guptas.

"I am a bit hard of hearing these days‚" said Ramaphosa as members of the media asked if Nene still enjoyed his confidence.

"I actually have to go to an ear [specialist]. Thank you very much."

Nene told the commission of inquiry into state capture last week he had met the Gupta family a number of times between 2010 and 2014 when he was deputy finance minister and then minister, despite having earlier denied this.

Nene subsequently asked Ramaphosa to relieve him of his duties following public pressure over his testimony.

It emerged on Tuesday morning that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has agreed to conduct an investigation into Nene for possible breach of the Executive Members' Ethics Act. This follows a complaint filed by DA MP David Maynier.

The alleged breach of the executives ethics act relates to allegations that a Public Investment Corporation (PIC) investment in S&S Oil Refinery‚ which reportedly included a $1.7m "referral fee"‚ which may have benefited Nene's son‚ Siyabonga Nene.

This allegedly took place at a time when Nene was chair of the PIC board in his capacity as deputy finance minister.

"I received a reply from Oupa Segalwe‚ acting executive manager of communications and stakeholder management‚ dated October 8‚ confirming that the matter will be investigated by the good governance and integrity branch within the office of the public protector.

"These allegations are serious given the fact that‚ in terms of section 96(2)(b) of the constitution‚ ministers may not "expose themselves to any situation involving the risk of a conflict between their official responsibilities and private interests", Maynier said in a statement.