Mboweni says Ramaphosa insisted he become finance minister | Fin24
 
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Mboweni says Ramaphosa insisted he become finance minister

Oct 19 2018 16:32
Khulekani Magubane, Fin24

SA's new Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on Friday recounted the days leading up to his appointment, saying he initially did not want to take up the position.

Speaking at a conference of the Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals in Johannesburg, the former labour minister and SA Reserve Bank head said he was apprehensive about returning to government.

On the day he was sworn in as minister, many observers pointed out his tweet in February that he turned the position down because he believed younger leaders should assume such positions.

Mboweni recounted how he and his younger brother maneuvered in the private sector to land big deals while interacting with state-owned industrial development and financing agencies. He attended the event on Friday as a stand-in speaker, in the absence of President Cyril Ramaphosa who is ill. 

Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago was also one of the speakers at the event. 

He said his adventures in the private sector taught him that South Africa could do more to make the finance sector more accessible to the broader South African population.

“The big banks haven’t crossed the Rubicon. They haven’t crossed over to Israel. Whether there is a black executive or not, they have not crossed over. It’s as if when black executives get there they want to be seen as acceptable,” said Mboweni.

Mboweni said in order to get the economy performing, government needed to create an environment which allowed small and medium enterprises to operate at an optimum level.

“If we are serious about access to capital, we must think in particular about how to support small and medium enterprises. In Germany you have Mercedes Benz and BMW, that economy is driven be the hidden champions that are small and medium enterprises,” Mboweni said.

Mboweni jokingly recalled his meetings with Ramaphosa where the position of finance minister was offered to him. He said he told Ramaphosa that he had no desire for the job, but that the president would not have a word of it.

“I said I did not want to be minister. We need young people now. I began jotting down names of people he should think about. Then I was told that the mandate of the meeting was not to seek advice. So, advice was out of the question,” he said.

Mboweni is due to table the medium-term budget policy statement in Parliament on Wednesday, a mere two weeks after saying “yes” to the job.

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