New finance minister Mboweni faces same old problems


"Get ready for your first cabinet meeting tomorrow!"

Markets heaved a sigh of relief on Tuesday when President Cyril Ramaphosa named Tito Mboweni as the new finance chief, bringing to an end the uncertainty that hung over local markets.

Ramaphosa made the announcement from Tuynhuys in Parliament.

The office of the Public Protector said on Tuesday it would look into a complaint by the main opposition Democratic Alliance party about the investment, carried out when Nene was chairman of the fund and deputy finance minister. Nene said during his testimony to the inquiry he was sacked in December 2015 for refusing to agree to Zuma's plans to spend billions of dollars on new nuclear plants.

Nene's fall from grace came after he admitted to an anti-graft inquiry that he met members of the Gupta family at their home six times, contradicting statements in an earlier interview that he only encountered them at public events. "I deeply regret these lapses and beg your forgiveness".

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By accepting Mr. Nene's resignation, Mr. Ramaphosa is setting a tough new standard for corruption issues.

"Minister Nene this morning submitted a letter of resignation to me in which he requested that I should relieve him of his position as finance minister".

Nene was initially hailed as a hero when he told the inquiry that Zuma had fired him in 2015 for "refusing to toe the line" on projects that would have benefited the wealthy Gupta family and others close to the then-president.

It's understood the minister offered to resign during a phone call to the president.

Questions have also been raised about a PIC deal involving Nene's son, while he was chairman of the PIC.

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"It's a measure of his character and commitment to the country that he has made a decision to resign in spite not being implicated in any wrongdoing", the president said.

The new finance minister, Mr. Mboweni, is seen as a safe pair of hands.

During his tenure as finance minister, Nene served with "diligence and great ability", said Ramaphosa.

"Mboweni possesses the necessary integrity, skills set and experience which can generate confidence in the markets, among investors and generally in the business community", said Raymond Parsons, a professor at the North West University's School of Business and Governance.

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