The new Finance Minister, Nhlanhla Nene Photo: Joshua Roberts
JOHANNESBURG - The banking community yesterday welcomed the return of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene to his position on Monday.

The Banking Association of South Africa said the National Treasury was in need of ethical leadership to drive the country out of its economic meltdown.

The association’s managing director said: “Ethical leadership at National Treasury is the most critical anchor point in our plans to grow our economy and to meaningfully drive an environment that legitimately promotes growth, creates jobs and lifts South Africans out of poverty.”

Nene was unceremoniously sacked by former president Jacob Zuma in December of 2015 under claims that he was being eyed for a position in the Brics Bank. His axing sent the markets into a free fall with the rand crashing to record lows and investors pulling out, driving the JSE’s market capitalisation down by R170 billion.

Zuma replaced Nene with then little-known Des van Rooyen before the continuing bloodbath in the market forced him to recall Pravin Gordhan to the position.

The KwaZulu-Natal-born Nene has previously served as deputy finance minister to Pravin Gordhan - with the two forming a formidable team, well respected by both domestic and international investors.

After his dismissal, Nene joined the private sector first as a non-executive director of Allan Gray and later as supervisory board member of newly-formed Cape Town-based investment firm, Arise.

Research think-tank NKC Africa Economics yesterday said Nene and Gordhan’s return as the head of the public enterprises portfolio would boost the economic cluster.

Rating

NKC analyst Gary van Staden said the appointments would be favourably received by financial markets and rating agencies.

“We believe this is a first-step cabinet remould with more changes to follow and we suggest that the outcome of the changes will be positive in the long term,” Van Staden said.

“To rebuild the country will take time, hard work, sacrifice and patience.”

Nene said yesterday that he initially had misgivings about returning to the government, but that President Cyril Ramaphosa would not take no for an answer.

The South African Revenue Service (Sars) also welcomed Nene’s return to the ministry.

“The return to the portfolio provides yet another opportunity for Sars to strengthen its effective working relationship with Minister Nene and the National Treasury in its effort to successfully collect revenue to support the government’s developmental agenda,” said Sars.

-BUSINESS REPORT