Since the appointment of Tito Mboweni as South Africa’s new finance minister, the internet-era saying “Twitter never forgets” has seemed particularly relevant, with many pointing out that the former South African Reserve Bank (SARB) governor and labour minister has publicly stated that he is “not available” for the post.
Mboweni has taken to Twitter to state his view that “you cannot recycle the same people all over again. It is time for young people.”
A month after he tweeted that, in March, he expressed his view that he has done his time regarding public service.
“I was in cabinet [from] 1994 [to] 1998. Then SARB for 11 years. That’s enough public service, don’t you think?”
Political analyst and academic Khaya Sithole told SABC News that Mboweni may have been unable to say no to Ramaphosa due to the urgency of the matter.
“I think what happened here is that literally because we were plunged into a crisis, he could not have said no in spite of the fact that he might feel that it is time for new blood to be at the treasury,” Sithole said.
He continued that when Mboweni wrote the tweets things were different. “That was at a time when Ramaphosa was essentially trying to constitute a new cabinet, which was a more managed transition.
“The situation is quite different now because it really was a crisis and the fact that you’ve got the midterm budget happening in a couple weeks simply meant there wasn’t sufficient time or latitude for the president to spend time deliberating on this. I think it accelerated his decision making.”
Whether Mboweni accepted the role as our new finance minister happily or not is unclear at this point. It has been reported that the position would come with a significant pay cut for him.
Mboweni has been known for being outspoken on Twitter, particularly considering his age. He announced his intention of retiring from the platform in September and voiced his opinion that there are “too many angry people” on the platform.
The finance ministry was unreachable at the time of publication of this article, with spokesperson for the Treasury Jabulani Sikhakhane not returning calls. Mboweni is presumably a hard man to get hold of following his appointment, but we will keep trying in the hope of letting our readers know what he says.