Rand drops as South Africa’s finance minister asks Ramaphosa to remove him

Arturo Kim
October 10, 2018

Nhlanhla Nene resigned over discrepancies in his accounts of meetings with a business family at the heart of a corruption scandal, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Tuesday. "He will strengthen Ramaphosa's hand in cabinet".

In a move that was cheered by markets, the former Reserve Bank governor returned to the cabinet for the first time since 1998, when former president Nelson Mandela deployed him to the Bank, before he took over after Chris Stals retired in 1999.

The President appointed a respected former governor of South Africa's central bank, Tito Mboweni, as the new finance minister.

South Africa's former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene looks on ahead of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry probing state capture in Johannesburg, South Africa October 3, 2018.

The rand was 0.03% stronger at R14.5500 per dollar at 0700 GMT, having closed in NY at R14.5550.

"It is a measure of his character and his commitment to the national interest that he has taken this decision to resign in the wake of errors of judgment‚ even though he has not been implicated in acts of wrongdoing".

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After leaving the Reserve Bank, Mboweni went into business, acting as an adviser in South Africa for Goldman Sachs Group and served as chairman of AngloGold Ashanti and on the boards of other companies.

Malema had threatened on Sunday that streets protests might be organised to demand for the removal of Nene as finance minister.

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.

It had received a battering under Mr Zuma's presidency.

Ramaphosa has made clean governance and the kick-starting of an economy mired in recession top priorities. Khusela Diko, the president's spokeswoman, said the two men have discussed the matter. "This averts a potential crisis in the political leadership of the national treasury".

Despite heavy pressure from Mr. Zuma in 2015, Mr. Nene refused to give his approval to a massive nuclear energy project that could have cost up to US$100-billion and would have benefited the Guptas, who owned a uranium mine.

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