Nene’s Brics job up for grabs – again

Former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Mangosuthu University of Technology in Umlazi, Durban, this week. The award was given in recognition of Nene’s contribution in the field of finance and government. Picture: Tebogo Letsie
Former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Mangosuthu University of Technology in Umlazi, Durban, this week. The award was given in recognition of Nene’s contribution in the field of finance and government. Picture: Tebogo Letsie

It is proving tough for the New Development Bank to fill the position of African Regional Centre director-general – the job that former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene was apparently nominated for.

This week, the bank readvertised the position on its website on the same day that Nene was appointed to the board of Allan Gray as a nonexecutive director.

The latest deadline for applications for the job is May 2. When the job was first listed on the bank’s website, the deadline was March 21, then the cutoff date was extended to May 28.

Prior to the relisting of the job, Leslie Maasdorp, the bank’s chief financial officer, told City Press that it had come up with a short list for the African Regional Centre director-general position, but interviews had not begun.

The new advertisement pitches the target market for the job as “global recruitment”, which might mean there is a greater chance now that the job may not go to a South African.

Nene this week firmly closed the door on taking up the position after Thebe Investment Corporation announced that he would join the investment company from May 1 as a resident adviser for two years.

“While this is a full-time appointment, Mr Nene will continue with his nonexecutive directorships that were declared prior to this appointment because these are not in conflict with his envisaged role at Thebe,” the company said.

Nene said this week that the Thebe and Allan Gray roles were as much as he was willing to take on for now.

“I wouldn’t take on any further roles for now. I would first like to see how my work schedule goes,” he said.

However, Nene declined to comment on whether he was in talks to take up other nonexecutive roles.

“I hope my life is going to be private from now on. I’m no longer in the public sector; I’m in the private sector,” Nene said jokingly.

Nene, who was unceremoniously sacked from his position as finance minister in December, resigned from Parliament a few days later. He was replaced by a little-known backbencher, Des van Rooyen, and the rand plummeted.

President Jacob Zuma reassigned Van Rooyen to a new portfolio four days later, and appointed Pravin Gordhan to his old portfolio as finance minister.

Two days after removing Nene, Zuma said: “The urgency of the changes in the leadership of National Treasury was occasioned by the need to send nominations to Shanghai for the head of the African Regional Centre of the New Development Bank ... Nene is our candidate for this position.”

Earlier this month, Nene said in an interview with eNCA: “I have not heard from the bank to this point ... The Brics bank job has not come up.”

Brics is the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Phumza Macanda, National Treasury spokesperson, referred questions regarding the director-general of the New Development Bank’s African regional office to the presidency.

Bongani Majola, spokesperson for the presidency, didn’t reply to an email seeking comment regarding the position, or whether the South African government had nominated another candidate to fill the position.

Nene has been swift to capitalise on the experience he gained at National Treasury and will take a position in the part of the economy that he used to regulate.

Just over four months after he left government, he has taken roles in two well-known financial companies. While there is no law against this, a six-month cooling-off period between government and private sector roles is usually the norm.

Trevor Manuel, South Africa’s finance minister from 1996 to 2009, and then minister in the presidency for the National Planning Commission from 2009 to March 2014, joined Rothschild as an adviser and deputy chairman in October 2014 – seven months after leaving government.

Tito Mboweni left his position as SA Reserve Bank governor in November 2009. In June 2010, Mboweni got his first private sector appointments when he became an international adviser for Goldman Sachs, the chair of Nampak and the chair of AngloGold Ashanti.

Meanwhile, Nene was this week awarded an honorary doctorate in finance by the Mangosuthu University of Technology in KwaZulu-Natal.

Nene told Mangosuthu students in his graduation speech: “Never, even for one moment, be confused; money isn’t everything. There’s more to life than making money. It includes living a life with a purpose and building a successful career.”

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