Nhlanhla Nene back as finance minister | Fin24
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Nhlanhla Nene back as finance minister

Feb 26 2018 22:16
Jan Cronje and Tehillah Niselow

Cape Town - Nhlanhla Nene will be South Africa's new finance minister. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday evening that Nene will be reappointed to the post, once he has been sworn in. 

"I intend to have him [Nene] appointed as minister of finance," said Ramaphosa. He said that Nene, and other newly appointed ministers, would be sworn in in Cape Town on Tuesday. 

Malusi Gigaba has been moved to home affairs. 

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has been axed, as has Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane. 

Brown will be replaced by Pravin Gordhan, while Zwane is set to vacate his office for Gwede Mantashe. 

After the announcement was made, Nene told Fin24 by phone that it would take a great deal of work to stabilise the country’s finances.

But he added he is “quite confident” it can be done.

“I haven’t been sworn in yet, [the position] is a tall order, it’s going to take a lot of doing, I was very comfortable where I was,” he said on Monday evening. 

Nene added that the past two years working in the private sector have taught him a lot and “it’s been quite an interesting journey”.

Media was only informed late on Monday that the new president would be announcing changes to his Cabinet. Ramaphosa announced the changes in a statement at the Union Buildings in Pretoria just after 22:00. 

He did not take questions from assembled journalists. 

Since Ramaphosa was sworn in as president on February 15, taking over from Jacob Zuma, speculation has swirled around when he would change his Cabinet, and who he would be axing

Back to Nene 

Nene was the country's finance minister for 18 months between May 2014 and December 2015, when he was axed in favour of then little-known MP David "Des" van Rooyen.

But Van Rooyen was himself ousted only three days later, earning him the nickname "weekend special". He was replaced by Pravin Gordhan who, in turn, was replaced by Gigaba as finance minister on March 30 2017.

When Nene was ousted, then president Jacob Zuma promised he would be deployed "to another strategic position", saying this new deployment would be "announced in due course". But the announcement never came, and Nene moved to the private sector after resigning as an MP in 2016.

Earlier on Monday ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe confirmed to News24 that Nene would again be sworn in as an ANC MP on Tuesday, which kicked off speculation that Nene would be returning to his old post. 

After he moved to the private sector in 2016, Nene continued to speak out against corruption, economic mismanagement and the looting of state resources. 

Turbulent times call for special leaders

“We are indeed living in turbulent times," he said at an event to mark the launch of a satellite campus of the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business in Sandton in May 2017.

"Our economy is moving at a snail’s pace and for some it may feel like it is not moving at all. And then there is the political drama that grabs attention much more than any of the soapies currently out there.

“Turbulent times call for a special type of leader; above all else, it calls for steady nerves. Turbulent times call for leaders to gaze beyond the fog," he said.

"They also need to make their followers believe that tomorrow will be greater than today.”

* Update on February 26 at 22:30: This article was updated to reflect Nhlanhla Nene's response to being made finance minister. 

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