Enoch Godongwana is SA's new minister of finance as Mboweni resigns

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Newly appointed Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana.
Newly appointed Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana.
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Enoch Godongwana is South Africa's new finance minister, after President Cyril Ramaphosa accepted Tito Mboweni's resignation.

Godongwana is currently the head of the ANC's economic transformation subcommittee in the national executive committee (NEC), and chairperson of the Development Bank of Southern Africa. He is also a director of paper and packing group Mondi as well as the platinum miner Platinum Group Metals.

Born in rural Eastern Cape and educated at St John's College in Mthatha, he started his career in the trade union movement, becoming general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers South Africa (Numsa) by 1994. He earned a master's degree in financial economics from University of London in 1998.

After serving as provincial minister of finance in the Eastern Cape, he was appointed by former president Jacob Zuma as deputy minister of public enterprises in 2009, and the following year moved to deputy minister of economic development. He resigned in 2012.

While Godongwana's roots are in the labour movement, he is seen as a growth-orientated pragmatist. As chair of the ANC's economic transformation subcommittee, his told the party lekgotla earlier this year that South Africa cannot tax or spend its way out of its current economic crisis, adding that "government expenditure is too high for the amount of revenue that the economy can generate".

In his presentation, Godongwana also said there was a narrow tax base of only five million individuals, and this base was shrinking.

In a recent Business Day column, Godongwana outlined his views on what a growth strategy for South Africa would entail, namely "structural reforms, public investment, particularly in infrastructure, and small, medium and micro-enterprise (SMME) support, including access to finance".

"Most importantly, we need a new growth and transformation model for SA that will get us out of the growth trap, focusing first on the extension of social infrastructure to meet basic needs, second on the expansion of economic infrastructure, including energy security, water and transport infrastructure, and third on the promotion of industrial investment and related education and training policies," he wrote.

Mboweni bows out

Mboweni was minister of finance from October 2018, a tumultuous term which often put him at odds with his Cabinet colleagues.

He publicly went against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, in a long battle about in his reticence at pouring money into the black hole of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), specifically South African Airways.

Fin24 understands that the ANC's alliance partners, Cosatu and the SACP, were also adamant that Mboweni had to go after clashes with unions over civil servant hikes.

In addition, it has been an open secret in Treasury that officials had grown increasingly frustrated with Mboweni, whom they viewed as aloof, on his own mission and even dismissive.

However, Mboweni will be remembered for his attempts to keep a tight grip on government spending after the excesses of the Zuma era.

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