Mboweni is right person to steer SA finances - Black Business Council

Mcebisi Jonas

Meanwhile, Malema - in a written letter to Ramaphosa on Monday - said SA was undergoing serious economic difficulties, and one of the ingredients in an economic recovery was a credible finance minister.

South Africa's top anti-graft body said it would investigate whether the finance minister breached ethics guidelines over a state pension fund investment, piling pressure on Nhlanhla Nene as he faced questions about his future.

"As a former governor of the Reserve Bank and before that, as Minister of Labour, Mr Mboweni brings with him vast experience in areas of finance, economic policy and governance".

Last week Nene told an inquiry into government corruption he had made numerous visits to the Gupta family, friends of former leader Jacob Zuma accused of unfairly winning state contracts and influencing the firing of ministers.

Zuma has also denied any wrongdoing.

Ramaphosa, who has pledged to clean up corruption and revive South Africa's struggling economy, has appointed Tito Mboweni, a former head of the South African Reserve Bank, as the new finance minister.

She said there had been ongoing engagements between the two and that Nene had briefed him on the details around his testimony.

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"It's a measure of his character and commitment to the country that he has made a decision to resign in spite not being implicated in any wrongdoing", the president said.

Zuma ruled for nearly nine years before the governing African National Congress forced him to quit in February and replaced him with his 65-year-old deputy and party leader, Ramaphosa. The EFF, which called the finance minister a "horror story", said it would only accept his apology if he resigned.

Nene said he believed he was sacked because he refused to "toe the line" on projects, including a since-abandoned deal for nuclear energy, that may have benefited the Gupta family and other Zuma associates.

He previously served as minister of finance from May 25, 2014, until his controversial removal by former President Jacob Zuma on December 9, 2015.

Commenting on the state capture inquiry, Ramaphosa said it was critical that the commission had the means and opportunity to effectively fulfil its mandate.

With government debt at already dangerously high levels and the country at risk of losing its sole remaining investment-grade credit rating from Moody's Investors Service, Mboweni will have little option but to stick to the National Treasury's expenditure ceilings and deficit-reduction targets.

"(He) will have the advantage of being able to hit the ground running and is, at least, known to market participants, ratings agencies and global financial institutions", it said.

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