Our new finance minister enjoys the humble pilchard and is not afraid of being 'spicy'

Tito Mboweni (Gallo Images / City Press / Leon Sadiki)
Tito Mboweni (Gallo Images / City Press / Leon Sadiki)

South Africa's fifth finance minister in less than three years, Tito Mboweni, is certainly relatable at a time of pinching pockets and questions over political policies.

Citizens get regular insights into his life as a foodie and a farmer, with him frequently posting photos on Twitter and Facebook of meals he has eaten and the wild landscapes and livestock he so dearly loves.

He even gave himself a sort-of royal title once.

Posing proudly on his own land with his chickens, he announced: "The farmer in the Duchy of Makgoebaskloof! The Duke himself".

Mboweni is not afraid of feeling the "heat", a quality that is much needed in a strained economy.

This is evident from many photos he has posted of sweat dripping down his face after a spicy meal containing chillies.

Shortly after Mboweni's appointment on Tuesday, Twitter user @Anelisar posted a photo of a sweaty Mboweni, eyes wide open, and asked: "Hows the rand doing?"

READ: EFF welcomes Nene's resignation, calls for more minsters to follow suit

On the rand, the former Reserve Bank governor appears quite comfortable balancing the budget.

He is a fan of budget-friendly canned pilchards and in March tweeted: "The deed is done! Cleaned out. Nice. And by the way, the Lucky Star is VAT zero-rated. Thank you National Treasury for thinking about us pensioners."

His worn, aged wallet has also seen better days and, after comments from his followers to buy a new one, he retired it in September. 

Mboweni, however, has also had several spicy moments on social media.

In May 2015, Twitter users called him out for privilege after he moaned about not being allowed to skip queues at an airport.

He tweeted at the time: "Today I was booted out of the VIP security checkpoint at ORT. No longer allowed. Reason: unapproved person. Wow. been using this since 1994" and "So when you retire from public service you become an unapproved person. So much 4 dedication 4 so many years to country and people!  Thanks."

He also got tongues wagging when, in April this year, he posted a series of tweets that many said resembled the policy of the EFF.

One of the tweets stated: "Dear God, open the eyes and ears of our Leaders’. Let them do four things: The State must own 40% of mining companies, start a State Bank, implement appropriate Land Use Planning and Create a Sovereign Wealth Fund. What is so difficult? That is Radical Economic Transformation!!"

In welcoming Mboweni's appointment on Tuesday, DA MP David Maynier noted that this tweet made him come across as "a little looney" because it seemed to be at odds with government policy.

While it is clear that Mboweni has no plans to move over to the EFF, he appears to have a soft spot for its leaders, Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu.

READ: WATCH - Nene out, Mboweni in: Here's everything you need to know

He tweeted in March: "Oh, by the way, both the Hon Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu are my home boys. I hope that they return to their home one day, the ANC! I doubt it though. But they could have strategic and tactical political issue based positions with us. There is work to be done. Never lose Hope."

When he bumped into EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi at a restaurant in Johannesburg last month, Mboweni didn't hesitate to take a selfie.

He shared with his followers that Ndlozi was a "nice chap. He is not a fanatic, he can laugh!!" and also noted that he had finally met someone shorter than him.

The new minister is not afraid to crack a joke on touchy topics such as expropriation without compensation.

In August, he posted a photo with the caption: "I had lunch with this landlord in Makgobaskloof. I told him that we will expropriate his farm without compensation! You should have seen the look on his face! et tu Governor!!"

He has had a lot of practice taking selfies - a skill that might come in handy if citizens want to pose with him like they do with President Cyril Ramaphosa.

And he might just ask citizens to lend him their ears, if a caption to his selfie a few months ago is anything to go by: "Relax my people! My ears were not expropriated without compensation. Its poor selfie photography on my part. I must learn to tilt sideways..!! Greetings.."

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