Rand drops as South Africa’s finance minister asks Ramaphosa to remove him

Lesetja Kganyago

Mboweni, who went into exile during apartheid, trained as an economist and served for four years as labour minister in former President Nelson Mandela's cabinet after apartheid ended in 1994.

But Nene revealed to a judicial inquiry last week that he had met with the Gupta business family at their home and offices six times - contradicting earlier statements that he had only met them in passing at social occasions.

Treasury spokesperson, Jabulani Sikhakhane, said the finance minister was expected to arrive in Indonesia on Wednesday.

"I was wrong in meeting the Guptas at their residence", he said.

"After due consideration of the circumstances around this matter and in the interest of good governance, I have chose to accept his resignation", said Ramaphosa.

The Guptas, who built a vast business empire in the mining and media industries in South Africa after forging a partnership with the son of former president Jacob Zuma, are now under criminal investigation on corruption allegations.

The visits occurred when he was deputy finance minister and also finance minister before Zuma fired him from that post in December 2015, Nene testified.

"South Africa is undergoing serious economic difficulties and massive job losses, and one of the ingredients towards economic recovery is a credible Minister of Finance", said Julius Malema, head of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters. "I deeply regret these lapses and beg your forgiveness". "It is a measure of his character and his commitment to the national interest that he has taken this decision to resign in the wake of errors of judgment, even though he has not been implicated in acts of wrongdoing".

Ramaphosa's office responded and said they were not aware of Nene's request. Five months after refusing to sign a letter of guarantee that would have given the project to Russia's state-controlled nuclear energy company, Mr. Nene was sacked from Mr. Zuma's cabinet and was briefly replaced by a pro-Gupta minister.

Nene did not answer calls for comment.

The country's main opposition party, however, said it was anxious about some of Mboweni's social media posts during his period away from politics and described them as "a little looney" and "at odds with government policy".

New Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will have to hit the ground running.

"The Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS)‚ which is supposed to be a statement to build confidence amongst all important economic role players‚ cannot‚ and should not‚ be delivered by a minister who was part of the Gupta criminal syndicate".

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