26 March 2016

South Africa: Ramaphosa Denies Meeting Business Tycoons Over Van Rooyen Appointment

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday dismissed allegations that he had met with business leaders to discuss cabinet appointments.

In a statement, Ramaphosa's office said he categorically denied that he had ever met with Johann Rupert, Trevor Manuel and Maria Ramos to discuss the appointment of Des van Rooyen as finance minister.

"The only time Deputy President Ramaphosa engaged himself with the matter of the finance ministry was during the meeting of the top six ANC officials with President Jacob Zuma on the Sunday leading to the appointment of Pravin Gordhan as the finance minister," Ramaphosa's office said.

Media reports this week suggested that Rupert had flown out from London to persuade 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 Gordhan in his place.

The meeting in question between Ramaphosa and Rupert was reportedly brought to light by Zuma during the ANC's national executive meeting last week. Zuma reportedly made allegations that there were business-influenced leaders within the party. He claimed that there was an ANC leader who had met with Rupert and was advised to influence the reversal of Van Rooyen's appointment.

Although Zuma did not name anyone while making the allegations, Gupta-owned newspaper The New Age, published similar claims against Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa's office said the suggestions that he had met with business tycoons to discuss the reversal of Zuma's decision to appoint Van Rooyen were "wholly incorrect, mischievous and misleading".

The deputy president's office said: "...It is unfortunate that those who peddled these falsehoods did not find it within their obligation to verify the facts with the office of the Deputy President before setting on publishing the story.

"It is our conviction that those who published these untruths will find it within their conviction to place correct facts at the disposal of the public."

Speaking to Netwerk24, Rupert, who is the chairman of the Swiss-based luxury-goods company Richemont and South Africa-based company Remgro, denied ever meeting with Ramaphosa over Van Rooyen's appointment.

He said that although he had been in the country at the time, he was attending a graduation ceremony at the University of Stellenbosch.

Netwerk24 reported that Rupert had instead called for Zuma to resign and criticised the ANC for failing to take action against him.

Source: News24

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