Tito Mboweni. Picture: THE HERALD
Tito Mboweni. Picture: THE HERALD

Tito Mboweni’s appointment as finance minister on Tuesday has received overwhelming support across the political and business spectrum.

Economists said the move to appoint Mboweni, a former Reserve Bank governor and labour minister, would go down well with credit rating agencies.

The post opened up for the fifth time in three years after former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene resigned on Tuesday.

Mboweni’s appointment comes ahead of Moody’s Investors Service’s scheduled ratings decision on Friday.

Economists also said it was unlikely for Moody’s to make a statement before the medium-term budget policy statement.

"This appointment will appease the rating agencies. Mboweni’s a relatively credible guy," said Nedbank economist Isaac Matshego.

BNP Paribas economist Jeff Schultz said Mboweni understood what needed to be done for financial stability during his tenure as governor and was "likely [to] adopt the same mantra, which would sit well with credit rating agencies".

Politically the ANC’s alliance partners Cosatu and the SA Communist Party (SACP) welcomed Mboweni’s appointment.

Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said Mboweni had the federation’s support, despite battles with him when he was governor. "What we need right now is someone like him to come in and provide necessary leadership to make sure he has all the stakeholders on board in terms of working together collectively to find ways of kickstarting the economy," he said.

SACP deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila thanked Nene "for refusing to sell SA to the highest bidder when he rejected the nuclear deal".

Nene was axed as finance minister in December 2015 by former president Jacob Zuma after he refused to sign off on a nuclear deal with the Russians.

The ANC lauded President Cyril Ramaphosa’s move as one that was "bold and timely".

The DA’s David Maynier said Mboweni would be able to "hit the ground running" given his experience, and was at least known to the markets, ratings agencies and international financial institutions.

The EFF, who had called for Nene’s head, said that Ramaphosa must apply the same consistency to ministers who continue to serve in his cabinet, such as Malusi Gigaba, Nomvula Mokonyane and Bathabile Dlamini, who have shown "the same disregard of ethical conduct".

Business Unity SA has called the timing of Nene’s resignation "regrettable", but president Sipho Pityana said it was important to emphasise that there can be no "dark cloud" hanging over the head of Treasury. He said the development did not introduce a new fiscal direction, but was a move to entrench stability.

Black Business Council president Sandile Zungu said Ramaphosa had made a commendable choice after Nene was put in "an untenable situation".

"He will be able to implement the stimulus package that will get the country to achieve the job creation target set at the recently held jobs summit."

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