SA has a new finance minister: former labour minister and Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni, who replaces Nhlanhla Nene.
This comes after the State Capture Inquiry heard testimony that Nene had several undisclosed meetings with the the scandal-plagued Gupta brothers. It was left to President Cyril Ramaphosa to decide what to do about Nene’s tenure at the finance ministry. Given the parlous state of the country’s finance, the country can ill-afford another discredited minister – such as happened in several portfolios under the Jacob Zuma presidency.
Nene was previously hailed as a hero for withstanding pressure from former President Jacob Zuma and the Guptas to sign off on a reported R1 trillion nuclear deal with Russian suppliers. He was fired by Zuma, but it turns out he wasn’t telling the whole truth about the extent of his engagements with the Guptas, who are suspected of widespread corruption involving government ministers and state-owned companies. Opposition parties, the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters in particular, smell blood and want Nene gone.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to make an announcement today about Nene’s future.
“[Ramaphosa] is concerned about the uncertainty this matter has created in the financial markets and he reaffirmed his commitment to the project of economic stability and economic recovery,” reports Business Day.
“…Nene had asked Ramaphosa to relieve him of his duties following public pressure over his testimony at the state capture inquiry, at which he admitted to meeting the Gupta family on numerous occasions and at their private Saxonwold home.
The request came after some political parties rejected his apology for the previously undisclosed meetings with the family when he served as deputy minister and minister of finance, respectively.
Bloomberg reported earlier on Tuesday that former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas declined an offer from Ramaphosa to replace Nene.
This story was updated to reflect that fact that rumours of Nene’s expected resignation had become fact.