Tito Mboweni as finance minister: what it means

Barbara Creecy

Barbara Creecy

Nhlanhla Nene has resigned as finance minister, the presidency announced on Tuesday.

Nene has become a divisive figure after testimony he gave at an inquiry into allegations of corruption by the Guptas, in which he admitted to the previously undisclosed visits.

"I was wrong in meeting the Guptas at their residence", he said. "I deeply regret these lapses and beg your forgiveness".

In a move that was cheered by markets, the former Reserve Bank governor returned to the cabinet for the first time since 1998, when former president Nelson Mandela deployed him to the Bank, before he took over after Chris Stals retired in 1999. The announcement led to a strengthening of the South African currency, the rand, which had weakened after earlier reports of Mr. Nene's likely resignation.

For the EFF, Nene's position as finance minister is no longer tenable and they are determined to win what they are now calling a battle.

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.

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Mboweni is a member of the ANC's national executive committee, one of the ruling party's highest decision-making bodies.

Until the latest revelations, Mr. Nene was widely seen as a hero of the resistance to corruption.

Moody's is set to review its rating on Friday, and Nene's departure risks rattling fragile investor sentiment towards an economy in recession. Five months after refusing to sign a letter of guarantee that would have given the project to Russia's state-controlled nuclear energy company, Mr. Nene was sacked from Mr. Zuma's cabinet and was briefly replaced by a pro-Gupta minister.

Mboweni, like mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe, has been appointed in terms of rules which permit two ministers from outside parliament.

"We are concerned that during the years that he was out in the political cold, he often came over on social media, at least, as a little looney posting content that seemed to be at odds with government policy", Maynier said, with an attached picture of Mboweni advocating for 40% ownership of mining companies by the state.

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