TITO MBOWENI takes the oath of office to become the new Finance Minister. Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

IN A day of high drama and mounting speculation yesterday, President Cyril Ramaphosa finally appointed the new sheriff in the National Treasury, with parties giving their full support.
Tito Mboweni’s first task as Finance Minister is his Cabinet meeting today where he is expected to deal with issues of the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement.

He will deliver the statement in two weeks' time in Parliament. Parties said he was the right man for the job.

Despite Mboweni’s appointment parties were concerned that this is the fifth finance ministerial appointment in three years, which they said was an indictment against the ANC. But Ramaphosa said they will continue to support the commission of inquiry into state capture, and want all those with information to come clean. “It is incumbent upon any person who may have knowledge of any of the matters within the commission’s mandate to provide that information to the commission, to do so honestly, and to do so fully,” said Ramaphosa.

Political parties in Parliament welcomed the appointment of Mboweni, saying he has a huge task to fix the economy.

Ramaphosa said it was time to roll up the sleeves and get back to work in fixing the economy.

The SACP said Nhlanhla Nene must be commended for resigning and refusing to hand over the keys of the National Treasury to those who wanted to capture it.

“Nene correctly refused to hand over our country to the highest bidder when he consistently refused to sign the nuclear deal that our country cannot afford,” said the SACP.

The DA, EFF, IFP, African Christian Democratic Party and National Freedom Party said it was time for Nene to go after his scandals with the Guptas. They said Mboweni, who has served as Labour Minister and Governor of the South African Reserve Bank, has extensive experience in governance and financial management.

They said the economy needed a person like Mboweni as it struggles to grow.

The economy has not grown above 5% since 2005 and has struggled amid tough economic conditions.

The DA said Mboweni must fix the economy. “With his experience, the new finance minister will have the advantage of being able to hit the ground running and is, at least, known to market participants, ratings agencies and international financial institutions who closely follow events in South Africa,” said the DA's David Maynier.

The EFF called on Mboweni to prioritise the plight of the poor. The party welcomed the departure of Nene as he had breached his oath of office. It said the same action must be taken against other ministers who flouted the law.

The IFP’s Mkhuleko Hlengwa said Mboweni has a role to play in fixing the economy. He said the fact that there have been five finance ministers in three years showed the ANC was floundering in providing stable governance and leadership.

However, the IFP welcomed the appointment of Mboweni and said this was done at the right time. “This comes at a time when our economy more than ever needs capable, able and stable leadership. We wish Minister Mboweni well as he journeys through the mammoth task of steering our economy in the right direction,” said Hlengwa.

Nhlanhla Khubisa of the NFP said Ramaphosa had appointed the right person to lead the National Treasury at this time. Khubisa said Mboweni had proven himself as a distinguished leader in his time as governor of the Reserve Bank and member of Cabinet. He said the new finance minister had vast experience in business and financial matters.

ACDP leader Reverend Kenneth Meshoe said Mboweni’s track record had proven itself over the past two decades, first in the Cabinet and later in the Reserve Bank. “We believe the markets will be stabilised. He comes with a lot of knowledge as he sat in Cabinet as minister of labour and governor of the Reserve Bank,” said Meshoe.

Meanwhile, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said Nene’s confessions that he had met the Guptas several times had prompted him to file new written questions to 34 ministers about their meetings with the controversial family.

Maimane and his fellow MPs lodged a similar campaign in 2016 but that hit a snag after only one minister - Dr Rob Davis - of Trade and Industry admitted to meeting the Guptas. Davis told the DA that he met them in 2010, saying it was at the request of the Guptas “to discuss the company’s investment plans”. - Additional reporting: Baldwin Ndaba

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