As Nene falls on his sword, Mboweni makes a comeback

2018-10-09 19:53
Tito Mboweni inaugurated as the new finance minister. (Lameez Omarjee, Fin24)

Tito Mboweni inaugurated as the new finance minister. (Lameez Omarjee, Fin24)

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As Nhlanhla Nene became the first victim of the state capture probe, an old hand in the economic cluster – Tito Mboweni – was appointed as his successor as finance minister. 

With a serious expression, President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday afternoon in Tuynhuys said he received a letter from Nene, in which he asked to be relieved of his duties. 

This follows Nene's testimony before the commission of inquiry into state capture last week, in which Nene backtracked on previous remarks about meeting the Guptas in social settings, revealing that he had met the controversial brothers several times between 2009 and 2014.

In the days after his testimony, pressure mounted on Nene, as it did on Ramaphosa to remove him.

"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," Ramaphosa said.

RAMAPHOSA'S FULL SPEECH: Mboweni new finance minister as Nene steps down: 'This moment calls for strong, capable and steady leadership'

"He has indicated that there is a risk that the developments around his testimony will detract from the important task of serving the people of South Africa, particularly as we work to re-establish public trust in government."

"After due consideration of the evidence presented by Minister Nene at the Commission, and in the interests of good governance, I have decided to accept his resignation," Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa said Nene served South Africa with "diligence and ability" and "under difficult circumstances and often under great pressure, he 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."

Ramaphosa then announced that Mboweni would take the reins at Treasury with immediate effect. 

Mboweni will return to the economic cluster, having previously served as minister of labour between 1994 and 1999, and as the Reserve Bank governor between 1999 and 2009.

"[Mboweni] has vast experience in the areas of finance, economic policy and governance."

Ramaphosa said that this moment called for "strong, capable and steady leadership" and that Mboweni was taking over at a "critical time" for the economy, where there were priorities to increase investment, growth and jobs.

READ: Rand holds gains as Tito Mboweni announced as finance minister

Ramaphosa said it was critical that the commission, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, had the means and opportunity to effectively fulfill its mandate.

"In this process, no person should be above scrutiny, and all relevant and credible accusations of wrongdoing should be thoroughly investigated," Ramaphosa said.

"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."

He said for the country to move forward, the full extent of state capture and those responsible for it must be established and that the process must be guided by the Constitution.

As he left the podium and took a seat before Mboweni's swearing-in ceremony, Ramaphosa looked visibly relaxed.

"What are you sending out now?" he asked with a laugh to the assembled journalists.

Judge Babalwa Mantame presided over Mboweni's swearing-in. 

As Ramaphosa shook his hand in congratulations, he told the newest member of his cabinet: "And get ready for your first cabinet meeting tomorrow."

The media did not have an opportunity to ask Ramaphosa or Mboweni questions.

Read more on:    tito mboweni  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  nhlanhla nene  |  politics

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