Cape Town - "I think the president has just taken away my freedom," Tito Mboweni said on Tuesday in his first comments to reporters as South Africa's new Finance Minister.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday appointed Mboweni, a former Reserve Bank governor and labour minister, as finance minister, replacing Nhlanhla Nene who admitted to having meetings with the Gupta family, who are at the centre of alleged corruption.
Nene faced calls to resign after he admitted visiting the Gupta brothers, friends of scandal-plagued former president Jacob Zuma who have been accused of high-level influence-peddling, and failing to disclose the meetings earlier.
Zuma and the Guptas have denied any wrongdoing.
The rand firmed moments before Mboweni was announced finance minister at a ceremony in Cape Town. Banking stocks closed more than one percent firmer.
Ramaphosa said he had received a resignation letter from Nene and had decided to accept it.
"It's a measure of his character and commitment to the country that he has decided to resign despite not being implicated in any wrongdoing," the president said.
"I am confident that Mr Mboweni will bring the leadership that is needed now," Ramaphosa said.
"As 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 as well as governance."
After he was sworn in as finance minister at Tuynhuis, Ramaphosa shook his hand and quipped: "You can now get ready for your first Cabinet meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) morning."
Mboweni said Ramaphosa called him at around 9pm on Monday night to inform him about the appointment.
Mboweni, who was sworn into office, did not want to be drawn on what his priorities were as minister. One of his first tasks will be delivering the medium-term budget this month.
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