President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Tito Mboweni as the new finance minister on Tuesday.
Mboweni, a former ANC National Executive Committee member, was minister of labour in then-president Nelson Mandela’s Cabinet. In August 1999 he became the first black governor of the South African Reserve Bank, a position he held for 10 years until 2009.
But now, he has been plucked from his humble farming life in Tzaneen to steer the SA economy.
Mboweni takes over from Nhlanhla Nene, who asked to be relieved of his duties over the weekend following controversy about his previously undisclosed meetings with the controversial Gupta family.
Nene apologised to the nation for having shown poor judgment in meeting with the family during the years when he was deputy finance minister and then finance minister under Jacob Zuma, and for not having disclosed these meetings earlier.
It was reported on Sunday that the apology caught Ramaphosa by surprise.
The EFF rejected his apology, while the DA went on to ask the public protector to investigate a Public Investment Corporation deal involving Nene’s son to determine if Nene abused his power in any way in ensuring that deal was signed, or whether there was any conflict of interest.
Nene was controversially axed in December 2015 by Zuma in what became known as “Nenegate”. He told the state capture commission last week that he believed that happened because Nene was reluctant to sign off on a more than R1 trillion nuclear build programme with Russia.
Ramaphosa brought Nene back as finance minister earlier this year in his first cabinet reshuffle as caretaker president following Zuma’s recall by the ANC in February. Nene replaced Malusi Gigaba, who was moved back to Home Affairs.
The announcement came after South Africans and political parties rejected Nene’s apology for previously undisclosed meetings with the Guptas at Saxonwold and at their business premises in Midrand from 2010 to 2014, when he served as deputy minister and then minister of finance, respectively.
This revelation at the state capture inquiry raised serious questions about Nene’s credibility, particularly whether the Guptas had any role in his previous Cabinet deployments and whether he at any stage had acted under their instruction.
The Sunday Times reported that when Nene was reappointed to the Cabinet in February this year, he did not disclose to President Cyril Ramaphosa that he had had seven meetings with the Guptas during his previous Cabinet stint.
Nene had been expected to deliver the mid-term budget policy statement in parliament on October 24. This will be crucial in detailing Ramaphosa’s stimulus plan for the economy, as well as the government’s bailout plans for a number of struggling state-owned enterprises.
It also emerged on Tuesday morning that public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane had agreed to investigate Nene for a possible breach of the Executive Ethics Act.
The alleged breach relates to allegations surrounding a Public Investment Corporation investment in S&S Refinarias‚ reportedly including a $1.7-million “referral fee”‚ which may have benefited the minister’s son‚ Siyabonga Nene.
– Citizen/Celeb Gossip