Thursday, December 17, 2015

SA's Jacob Zuma Should Learn from Najib Razak

South African president Jacob Zuma abruptly axed his respected finance minister Nhlanhla Nene on December 09, 2015 – and replacing the latter with David Van Rooyen, a relatively unknown lawmaker with little experience in government. The sacking episode piles more uncertainty onto an already shitty economy.
Nene was finance chief for just 18 months, and the government did not immediately explain his dismissal. There had been no credible justification for this sudden sacking and Zuma merely issued a terse statement that simply said that Nene would be moved to a new role, but did not specify what role that will be.
Two weeks ago, two of the three major credit ratings agencies downgraded South Africa to just one notch above “junk” status, citing over-spending, declining business confidence, and weak economic growth as justification. Nene’s firing as finance minister has analysts fearing further downgrades.
Even South Africa’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry had implored Zuma to explain himself. Alan Mukoki, SACCI’s CEO: “We are looking forward to the president sharing the motivation for this decision with the business community as a matter of priority”.
A selling frenzy in South Africa's markets triggered by last week's events wiped nearly $11 billion (£7 billion) off the value of shares. It prompted the head of the country's bourse, Nicky Newton-King, to say on Sunday that she was concerned about long-term financial stability.
And that's not all! Zuma replaced his finance minister for the second time in five days with Pravin Gordhan, who held the job between 2009 and 2014.
Sky News on Monday reported Zuma’s explanation. The latter had said he swapped van Rooyen so quickly because he was responding to "appeals". He said: "I have received many representations to reconsider my decision. As a democratic government, we emphasize the importance of listening to the people and to respond to their views."
Zuma has done a good job of assoting himself. Maybe he couldn’t think straight – it is not his fault that he is suffering from ankyloproctia and which affects his mental prowess!
Actually, to save himself all this trouble, Zuma should take a leaf from Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. I mean if Zuma wants to continue his free spending ways, he should seriously consider appointing himself Finance Minister – just as Najib did.
Malaysians know only too well that Najib enjoys spending other people's money. Look at his own “office”, the Prime Minister’s Department – in tough economic times as we are in now, he did not cut back on its spending; in fact, RM20.3 billion was allocated for 2016 (from RM19 billion in 2015), representing a 7.6 percent of the total budgeted expenditure.
In fact, Najib makes a good role model for Zuma. Didn’t Sarawak Report label him a big spender? He himself had splashed over $1 million on his credit cards in just one month, i.e. August 2014. The spending took place in Europe while he was on a summer holiday.
[For Malaysians who are still in the dark, Najib’s bills were run up on two cards he was using – a Visa and a MasterCard from CIMB & Maybank – according to Sarawak Report dated August 17, 2015. And the beauty is that he has always declined to explain how such conspicuous spending has been funded. I suppose that is a Malaysian prime minister’s privilege].
Really, Zuma and Najib are two peas in a pod. 

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