What caused the undoing of Nhlanhla Nene? Hitherto he was presumed to be like Caesar’s wife – beyond reproach and one of the last people to come to mind when considering government high-fliers in the line of fire at the state capture inquiry. Despite holding one of the most high-profile positions in the government, Nene was a cautious, somewhat innocuous figure who hardly featured in the media, let alone associated with grand corruption. But he did have one of the most widely reported and costly dismissals in South African history. His sudden and unjust firing by former president Jacob Zuma in December 2015 cost SA billions and cast him as one of the biggest victims of the state-capture network. By removing him, Zuma and the Guptas had their grip on the ultimate prize: the Treasury. But pressure from powerful quarters forced Zuma to reappoint Pravin Gordhan as the sentinel over the Treasury, dealing a setback to the Gupta network. While the Treasury was temporarily protected, it was...

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