South African finance minister criticized after testimony

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South Africa's top anti-graft body said it would investigate whether the finance minister breached ethics guidelines over a state pension fund investment, piling pressure on Nhlanhla Nene as he faced questions about his future.

Nene is a key ally of Ramaphosa, who reappointed him finance minister in a cabinet reshuffle shortly after he became president earlier this year.

He previously served as minister of finance from May 25, 2014, until his controversial removal by former President Jacob Zuma on December 9, 2015. Now to continue the discussion around the appointment of Mobweni and resignation of Nene as a result of his testimony before the Inquiry, we are joined in studio by an analyst Khaya Sithole.

The 59-year-old minister is expected to steady a ship on the rocks after Nene's state capture inquiry bombshells, where he admitted to a relationship and to meeting the controversial Gupta family at their Saxonwold home.

Ramaphosa stressed that Nene "has not been implicated in any act of wrongdoing himself" and hailed him as a minister who had "defended the cause of proper financial management as well as clean governance". "I deeply regret these lapses and beg your forgiveness".

Last week, Mr Nene told a judge-led inquiry into the alleged influence of the Guptas, known as the Zondo commission, about meetings that he had previously denied.

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Mboweni is a member of the ANC's national executive committee, one of the ruling party's highest decision-making bodies. 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.

Questions have also been raised about a PIC deal involving Nene's son, while he was chairman of the PIC.

Ramaphosa's spokesperson Khusela Diko told News24 there was no official comment on the reports yet, while calls to Nene went unanswered.

The new finance minister, Mr. Mboweni, is seen as a safe pair of hands.

Mboweni, who trained as an economist, served as head of the South African Reserve Bank for a decade until 2009 and for four years as labour minister in the former President Nelson Mandela's cabinet.

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