Former Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni has been sworn in as South Africa’s new Finance Minister.
This comes after outgoing Minister, Nhlanhla Nene, submitted a letter of resignation on Tuesday morning to President Cyril Ramaphosa, requesting to be relieved of his duties.
President Ramaphosa made the announcement in Cape Town on Tuesday.
“Over the course of the last few days there has been much discussion among South Africans on matters that arose in the course of the testimony of Minister Nhlanhla Nene at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
“As a consequence of these developments, Minister Nene submitted a letter of resignation this morning in which he requested that I relieve him of the position of the Minister of Finance,” the President said.
He said Nene had indicated that there is risk that the developments around his testimony will detract from the important task of serving the people of South Africa, particularly as government works to re-establish public trust.
The President’s announcement comes after Presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko told journalists on Tuesday that there had been engagements between the President and Nene following his testimony at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice, Judge Raymond Zondo.
Following his testimony to the commission last week, Nene released a statement apologising to South Africans for his lapse in judgement after his earlier statement during a TV interview that he had not gone to meet members of the Gupta family, except for at public functions.
Briefing journalists on Tuesday, the President said after due consideration of the evidence presented by Nene at the Commission, and in the interests of good governance, he took a decision to accept Nene’s resignation.
The President took some time to thank Nene for having served the people and the government of South Africa with “diligence and ability”.
He said that under difficult circumstances and often under great pressure, Nene consistently defended the cause of proper financial management and clean governance.
“It is a measure of his character and his commitment to the national interest that he has taken this decision to resign in the wake of errors of judgment, even though he has not been implicated in acts of wrongdoing,” he said.
After a brief stint as advisor to the Reserve Bank Governor between July 1998 and July 1999, Mboweni was appointed as the Governor in August 1999.
Mboweni was appointed to several positions during his tenure. This includes his appointment as the honorary Professor of Economics by the University of South Africa between 2000 and 2003 as well as being elected Chancellor of the University of the North West and he was installed as Chancellor in February 2002.
In April of 2002, Mboweni was appointed as the Governor Professor Extraordinary in Economics and served in that capacity until 31 March 2005.
On Tuesday, the President said that having served as a Minister of Labour before being appointed as a Governor of the Reserve Bank, Mboweni brings a wealth of experience “in the areas of finance, economic policy and governance”.
“Mr Mboweni takes on this responsibility at a critical moment for our economy, as we intensify cooperation among all social partners to increase investment, accelerate growth and create jobs on a substantial scale.
“This moment calls for strong, capable and steady leadership that will unlock new opportunities as we grow and transform our economy.
“I am confident that Mr Mboweni will provide that leadership.”
Commission of Inquiry on State Capture
The President said, meanwhile, it was critical the Commission has the means and opportunity to effectively fulfil its mandate.
He said during this process, no person should be above scrutiny, and all relevant and credible accusations of wrongdoing should be thoroughly investigated.
“It is incumbent upon any person who may have knowledge of any of the matters within the Commission’s mandate to provide that information to the Commission, to do so honestly and to do so fully.
“For the country to move forward, we need to establish the full extent of state capture, identify those responsible for facilitating it, and take decisive steps to prevent it happening again.
“Throughout this process, we need to be guided by the values and principles of our Constitution, mindful of the importance of due process, committed to good governance, and determined that, with the support of all South Africans, the Commission of Inquiry will succeed in fulfilling its critical mandate,” he said. –