Hilary Joffe Columnist

Finance minister Tito Mboweni is said to have been President Cyril Ramaphosa's third choice for the post, after former deputy minister Mcebisi Jonas and Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago. Nor did Mboweni want the job, as he was at pains to point out to journalists at the medium-term budget. That he reportedly played hard to get is a good start: it would have given him bargaining power, and ideally ensured he had political cover from the president to say some unpopular things and make some unpopular decisions. He will need that cover. Three big and difficult fiscal decisions, which predated him, went into crafting the medium-term budget that Mboweni presented to parliament on Wednesday. The numbers were dire even with those decisions, and the tough stuff is yet to come - which is why the robust views Mboweni expressed this week on issues such as the public-sector payroll and private-sector participation may be just what Ramaphosa needs. But pushing them through politically will ...

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