Finance Minister Tito Mboweni. Picture: Siyabulela Duda/GCIS
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni. Picture: Siyabulela Duda/GCIS

Tito does it again: Four times defiant Mboweni upset the applecart

By SAMKELO MTSHALI Time of article published May 6, 2020

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Durban - Since his appointment to Cabinet as finance minister by President Cyril Ramaphosa in October 2018, Tito Mboweni has not been a man afraid to upset the applecart within his party.

Many of Mboweni's assertions, particularly on economic turnaround strategies, have left him on a collision course with the ANC's Tripartite Alliance partners, Cosatu and the SACP, and some sections within the party.

Following his Twitter rant on Tuesday night, in which he said that abiding by the collective decisions of Cabinet "feels like swallowing a rock" we look at the four times that Mboweni has disagreed with the collective decisions of the Cabinet.

1. SAA

Barely a month after he was handpicked by Ramaphosa to succeed Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister, Mboweni irked the ire of Cosatu when he said, during an investor conference in New York, that troubled national airline SAA should be shut down as it had no future.

Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali did not take kindly to Mboweni's assertion and called on the ANC to rein in those ministers who did not toe the party line.

"We thought what he was raising was not in line with the ANC resolutions," Ntshalintshali quipped at the time.

2. ANC policy resolution nationalising the central bank

In January, Mboweni was rebuked by the ANC for saying that the resolution of the ANC's Nasrec 54th national conference to nationalise the central bank was a wrong decision. 

In a strongly worded statement rebuking Mboweni's sentiments, the party said: "The ANC is concerned about the public posture taken by Comrade Tito Mboweni in relation to resolutions and policy positions of the ANC, specifically on the South African Reserve Bank (SARB). 

"It is our view that Comrade Tito should act with care and be cautious at all times on matters of policy given his position as the minister of finance, including subjecting himself to the overall communications protocols of the ANC."

The ANC added that it expected those who served in leadership structures of the party, particularly the NEC, were expected to uphold and defend resolutions of the ANC on public platforms at all times.

3. World Bank and IMF sponsored Covid-19 loans

In April, with the country in the throes of the battle against Covid-19, Mboweni said that South Africa might approach the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for funds to help with Covid-19. However, the ANC, SACP and Cosatu's Alliance Secretariat flatly rejected the idea saying that they were concerned by Mboweni's posture.

"The suggestion is rejected. Instead, the secretariat reaffirms the need to safeguard South Africa’s democratic national sovereignty, the fundamental right to self-determination, our independence, which are non-negotiable, even in the midst of a crisis," read a statement from the Alliance Secretariat.

4. Booze and cigarette sales ban

With Treasury set to lose out on billions due to the ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco products,  Mboweni said the country had lost out on R1.5 billion so far. Mboweni admitted that he had pushed for the sale of liquor and cigarettes during Level 4 of the lockdown, but had lost out.

"I didn't like the continuous ban on tobacco and alcohol, but I lost the debate and therefore I have to toe the line."  

Political Bureau

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