‘It was an error of judgment,’ Nhlanhla Nene says of visiting the Gupta family
Former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene admitted at the state-capture inquiry on Thursday that his eight visits to the Gupta family were an “error of judgment”.
Six of these meetings took place while he was deputy minister and two took place when he was minister between 2014 and 2015.
Nene initially made the revelation at the commission in 2018‚ but had not disclosed the exact number of times he met the family. He resigned shortly after his admission on the stand in October 2018 after it emerged that he had lied during a media interview that he had not met the controversial business family.
“I do think that it was an oversight and an error of judgment on my part ... I have always thought that engaging with a person does not immediately constitute any form of impropriety‚” he said on Thursday.
“After my appearance‚ eNCA played a previous interview where I had not disclosed my formal engagement with the Gupta family. I felt the office I occupy should remain beyond reproach. I felt that I would rather vacate the position and make life easy for the president.”
Nene previously testified that he was axed as finance minister by then president Jacob Zuma in 2015 after he refused to endorse a nuclear deal with Russia. 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
Other projects favoured by Zuma included a proposed restructuring of a deal between 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 was the first cabinet minister to appear at the Zondo commission.