Monday, 10 December, 2018

Black Business Council: Mboweni is right person to steer SA finances

Daniel Mminele Daniel Mminele
Melinda Barton | 10 October, 2018, 08:28

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa accepted the resignation of the country's finance minister Nhlanhla Nene on Tuesday, following what the President described as "errors of judgement".

"Mr Mboweni is a veteran who served as Minister of Labour under President Nelson Mandela from May 1994 to July 1998 and as such, he is the right person to steer the country out of the financial challenges that we now face", BBC president Sandile Zungu said.

He's set to deliver the medium-term budget policy statement in two weeks' time. He is the kind of person who will be able to take those decisions.

Nene is not the only minister in Ramaphosa's cabinet over whom a cloud hangs. His major achievement at the central bank was building the nation's foreign-exchange reserves to nearly US$40-billion from less than $10-billion.

The rand reacted positively at 0.79 percent stronger at R14.72 to the dollar on Tuesday, soon after the announcement. Yields on benchmark 2026 government bonds fell eight basis points to 9.21%. He became the first black governor of the SA Reserve Bank in August 1999 and served for just more than 10 years until November 2009. He featured on a list of candidates for the panel that backed Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the position of party leader in December - a post won by Ramaphosa.

The decision, made by President Cyril Ramaphosa, comes after Nene chose to resign from the post on Tuesday morning following a public outcry sparked by his public apology last week over his multiple meetings with the Gupta family at their private home.

He said he was accepting Mr. Nene's resignation "in the interests of good governance".

"The ANC further commends Comrade Nene for the commitment he has shown to the well-being of the country", ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said.

"Public servants at all spheres and levels of government will have no obligation to responsibly manage state fiscal resources under a compromised minister of finance, " Malema said.

Despite heavy pressure from Mr. Zuma in 2015, Mr. Nene refused to give his approval to a massive nuclear energy project that could have cost up to US$100-billion and would have benefited the Guptas, who owned a uranium mine. Ramaphosa has said combating graft is one of his top priorities, and he's replaced a number of other officials implicated in wrongdoing.

Commenting on the state capture inquiry, Ramaphosa said it was critical that the commission had the means and opportunity to effectively fulfil its mandate. "This averts a potential crisis in the political leadership of the national treasury".

The crisis over the finance minister has thrown a spotlight on Ramaphosa's promise to crack down on corruption and boost economic growth.