South African President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed former central bank Governor Tito Mboweni as his finance minister on Tuesday, replacing Nhlanhla Nene, who lied about his meetings with three businessmen accused of plundering state funds.
Mboweni, the nation’s fifth finance chief in less than three years, will have to oversee an economy that’s fallen into recession and help Ramaphosa rebuild confidence battered by almost nine years of mismanagement under former President Jacob Zuma. He must also reassure investors and credit-rating companies of credible plans to stabilize debt and revive growth in the mid-term budget on Oct. 24.
“Its a good appointment, especially if you want to appease the markets,” said Mcebisi Ndletyana, a political science professor at the University of Johannesburg. “There will be unpopular decisions to be made. He is the kind of person who will be able to take those decisions. He will strengthen Ramaphosa’s hand in cabinet.”
Mboweni, who trained as an economist, served as head of the South African Reserve Bank for a decade until 2009 and for four years as labor minister in former President Nelson Mandela’s cabinet. His major achievement at the central bank was building the nation’s foreign-exchange reserves to almost $40 billion from less than $10 billion.
The rand gained 0.9 percent to 14.7178 per dollar by 5:25 p.m. in Johannesburg, reversing an earlier decline of as much as 1.4 percent. Yields on benchmark 2026 government bonds fell eight basis points to 9.21 percent.
After leaving the Reserve Bank, Mboweni went into business, acting as an adviser in South Africa for Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and served as chairman of AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. and on the boards of other companies.
Mboweni is a member of the African National Congress’s National Executive Committee, one of the ruling party’s highest decision-making bodies. He featured on a list of candidates for the panel that backed Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the position of party leader in December — a post won by Ramaphosa.