Former finance minister Des van Rooyen said on Wednesday he does not believe billionaire Johann Rupert influenced his redeployment a few days after his appointment as minister.
An EWN reporter quoted the cooperative governance minister on Twitter as saying: “I don’t have any suspicion that my redeployment from the finance ministry was influenced by Johann Rupert.”
Media reports last week suggested that Rupert had flown out from London to persuade deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and other powerful business leaders to oppose the appointment of Van Rooyen as finance minister.
Van Rooyen was appointed by President Jacob Zuma to take over the position following the removal of Nhlanhla Nene in December. Zuma removed Van Rooyen from the post a few days later and put Pravin Gordhan in his place.
Zuma’s son, Edward, opened a case against Rupert in Nkandla on 25 March, City Press reported, adding that police confirmed a case had been opened.
On 26 March, Ramaphosa “categorically” denied meeting with business people — including Rupert, Maria Ramos and Trevor Manuel — following the appointment of Van Rooyen.
Ramaphosa said he only discussed the matter of the finance ministry during the meeting of the top six ANC officials with Zuma on the Sunday leading to the appointment of Gordhan as finance minister.
“The suggestion therefore that deputy President Ramaphosa met with Johann Rupert, Trevor Manuel and Maria Ramos to reverse decisions of the president on the finance ministry is thus wholly incorrect, mischievous and misleading,” said the presidency.