Rand nudges upwards as Mboweni takes over from Nene

Mcebisi Jonas

Ramaphosa confirmed that former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni is set to replace Nhlanhla Nene as Finance Minister with immediate effect.

But Nene's opponents say he was involved in corrupt deals with the Guptas when he was deputy finance minister and head of the state pension fund.

While Mboweni is South Africa's fifth finance minister less than three years, the financial markets welcomed his appointment and the rand erased losses and advanced as much as 1.4% against the dollar on Tuesday.

Last week Nene told an inquiry into government corruption he had made numerous visits to the Gupta family, friends of former leader Jacob Zuma accused of unfairly winning state contracts and influencing the firing of ministers.

"After due consideration of the evidence presented by Minister Nene at the Commission, and in the interests of good governance, I have chose to accept his resignation, " he added.

Mr. Nene had committed "errors of judgment" but was not personally implicated in any wrongdoing, Mr. Ramaphosa said in his announcement on Tuesday.

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But Nene revealed to a judicial inquiry last week that he had met with the Gupta business family at their home and offices six times - contradicting earlier statements that he had only met them in passing at social occasions.

As the country moves on from the saga, Nene is yet to shed more light on his meetings with Guptas, but he goes down as Cabinet's first victim of the state capture inquiry.

The biggest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, issued a similar call, saying Nene is likely to be the subject of lengthy investigations and that he risks "compromising public confidence" in the National Treasury. Five months after refusing to sign a letter of guarantee that would have given the project to Russia's state-controlled nuclear energy company, Mr. Nene was sacked from Mr. Zuma's cabinet and was briefly replaced by a pro-Gupta minister.

"I have accepted Nhlanhla Nene's resignation as Minister of Finance".

The rand firmed, moments before Mboweni, was announced Finance Minister at a ceremony in Cape Town.

"As a 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 and governance".

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