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Ratings agencies, taxpayers, investors and hard-pressed consumers will focus laser-attention on the pronouncements of new finance minister Tito Mboweni when he delivers his “maiden” medium-term budget speech in parliament on Wednesday afternoon. But there is nothing virginal about Mboweni’s cabinet status. He returns to the front bench of parliament two decades after leaving it, in 1998, as minister of labour, to assume the governorship of the Reserve Bank. Most of the commentary on his appointments has ranged from kindly sympathetic — of the “horror job but someone has to do it” sort — to the extravagantly lavish. “Masterstroke by Ramaphosa” being the headliner of this trope. Of course, even the most able ministers of finance do not make the economic weather, but can, if skilled and dextrous, navigate both the head and tail winds buffeting the country. Hardly surprising then, given the perfect storm raining down on SA right now, that Mboweni was so resistant to accepting the post. ...

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