FRIDAY BRIEFING | Tito Mboweni: Has he lost his influence with Cabinet?

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SA's economy: Who is really in control? 

For a period of 13 years, we generally felt safe in the hands of Trevor Manuel, who served as finance minister under Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe. It was under the presidency of Jacob Zuma that things became unsettled.

Pravin Gordhan, who took over when Manuel left, was replaced by Nhlanhla Nene during Zuma's first term. Then, in 2015, Zuma fired Nene and brought in David van Rooyen, who literally served in the position for a few days, after Zuma had to do an about-turn following an outcry. Van Rooyen was replaced with Gordhan once more.

In 2017, Zuma once again reshuffled his Cabinet and brought in Malusi Gigaba. In 2018, it was Gigaba's turn to be reshuffled when President Cyril Ramaphosa brought back Nhlanhla Nene. He was in the position for a short while after resigning following his testimony to the commission of inquiry into state capture, where he revealed he had met with members of the Gupta family several times between 2010 and 2014. These meetings had not been previously disclosed. In stepped Tito Mboweni, who had previously been the country's Reserve Bank governor. 

The Zuma years were one of dysfunction and is certainly reflected in the current situation we find the economy in now. It hasn't helped that the already struggling economy has been battered by the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving Mboweni in a very challenging position. A position he doesn't always seem keen to be in, if his tweets are anything to go by and his sojourns off to Limpopo. 

As Fin24's editor Ron Derby writes, Mboweni will always be honest to his colleagues in Cabinet about what needs to be done to get on the right track, but he currently doesn't have a president to report to who, himself, is in a strong position. Analyst Mpumelelo Mkhabela echoes this and writes that Ramaphosa often wants to please everyone, which doesn't assist when hard decisions need to be made. 

In my interview with political economist Moeletsi Mbeki, he said that while the blame for current policies is often laid at the door of Mboweni, it is actually the ANC who should be held responsible, while Thembinkosi Gcoyi and Pearl Mncube write that Mboweni may not always get his way, but it should not be seen as Ramaphosa losing confidence in his finance minister.

Finally, economist Kenneth Creamer takes a broader look at the economy and gives suggestions for small reforms that need to happen if we want to avoid the economy continuing to contract. 

Hope you enjoy the read before your weekend. 

Vanessa Banton 

Opinions Editor. 

Who is Tito Mboweni? 

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is a man who'll speak his truth to both his comrades, the country and to an attentive investment audience, but perhaps needs to be backed by a president in a stronger position than the current incumbent is in, writes Ron Derby.

Budget blues: Mboweni and Ramaphosa need to reconcile their views

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and President Cyril Ramaphosa need to reconcile their views on the economy, if we are going to have any economy to speak of, writes Mpumelelo Mkhabela. 

'The ANC, not Mboweni, must take responsibility for our economy': 8 questions for Moeletsi Mbeki

Vanessa Banton spoke to political economist Moeletsi Mbeki to get his views on the economy's current trajectory and whether the finance minister is up to the task.

Tito Mboweni may lose debates, but it doesn't mean he's lost the president's confidence

The occasional loss of debates within the ANC and Cabinet on policy matters should not be read as a test of President Cyril Ramaphosa's confidence in Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, writes Thembinkosi Gcoyi and Pearl Mncube.

SA's economic recovery: Well-implemented reforms will have an outsized impact

A small number of reforms, well-implemented, plus strong leadership and an end to corruption, will assist in getting the economy on the right track, writes Kenneth Creamer. 

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