Nhlanhla Nene. Picture: BLOOMBERG/SIMON DAWSON
Nhlanhla Nene. Picture: BLOOMBERG/SIMON DAWSON

FORMER finance minister Nhlanhla Nene is a mere nominee to head the Africa regional centre of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA (Brics) nations’ New Development Bank.

A month after Mr Nene was fired unceremoniously from his post, questions remain around the reason for his hasty removal, as he has still not taken up the Brics job. Officials of his seniority usually move only once they have a confirmed position elsewhere.

New Development Bank vice-president and chief financial officer Leslie Maasdorp has confirmed that Mr Nene was a formal nominee of the South African government to head the Africa regional centre.

"The appointment is high-priority and we will seek to fill this role as soon as the recruitment process is complete," Mr Maasdorp said. He did not provide details on when the process would be completed.

Mr Maasdorp said, however, that since the bank’s recruitment was "an internal confidential process, we are not in a position to disclose names of other candidates for the role".

The bank was working towards opening the interim offices of the Africa regional centre in Johannesburg by late this month or early next month, he said.

Speculation has been rife that Mr Nene was axed after he stood firm against a South African Airways deal that would have had dire financial consequences for the airline and the fiscus, and for his strong stance against an unaffordable nuclear energy build programmes.

In an interview with eNCA at the weekend, President Jacob Zuma said: "We took a decision that he (Nene) heads the Brics bank as it needs an experienced person."

Despite Mr Zuma’s wishes, the final decision on who is appointed rests with senior Brics bank officials.

But there was still the important question of whether Mr Nene would indeed accept the job should he be the successful candidate, MD for emerging markets and Africa at Deloitte-Frontier Advisory, Martyn Davies, said. While a regional office was important, as it would help identify development projects on the continent, the main decision-making roles were at the bank’s headquarters in Shanghai, China.

"I would rather have Mr Nene in Shanghai," Mr Davies said.

Mr Nene could not be reached for comment.

The New Development Bank’s main aim is to mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in Brics member states.

The bank is expected to start lending in the second quarter of this year and will have initial capital of $100bn.