Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mboweni To Quit In November

JOHANNESBURG – SA Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni will leave his post in November, South African President Jacob Zuma announced today (July 19).

Absa chairwoman Gill Marcus, a former deputy SARB governor, has been appointed to replace him from November 9 2009.

“I have reappointed ... Mboweni. However he has indicated he wishes to leave in November to pursue other interests.” Zuma said Marcus had ”qualities of proven leadership, sound judgement and integrity ... She will prove a worthy successor to Mr Mboweni”.

The change in governor comes after a flurry of controversy and speculation about the matter.

Last month, Cosatu made a call for Mboweni’s contract not to be renewed.

“We want change there [at the SARB],” Congress of SA Trade Unions president Sdumo Dlamini told reporters on June 4.

“[While Mboweni] has been there, we’ve been complaining about the same issues. We need change there.” Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said at the time: ”We have this stupid policy of inflation targeting which is keeping interest rates high. It clearly has not helped us much to grow the economy.” He said the federation supported the mass action by the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa).

Numsa held protests at the SARB in April and May this year.

Mboweni later met with the union.

Previously he had refused to receive a memorandum from them during the protest in May.

A few days later, on June 7, Zuma – when asked during a television interview if he was satisfied with the way the SARB was discharging its responsibilities – replied: “I think so far.” At the time, Zuma declined to comment on Cosatu’s criticism of Mboweni.

“I don’t think we could respond to that question of the governor of the Reserve Bank. ”That’s a matter we’ll deal with when we get to a particular point. Of course appointments do not please anyone at any given time.” While there has been much speculation about his re-appointment, most economists expected Mboweni to stay on.

A Business Day “Insider” piece published last month said journalists at a press conference on the Bank’s interest rate decision in June had tried to ”read between the lines” as to whether Mboweni would be staying on.

Journalist noted that Mboweni said at the time that he hoped by his “retirement” that trade union members would be wearing T-shirts saying ”Viva inflation targeting, Viva!...

“I have failed desperately,” he said.

The opinion piece questioned whether this was an indication already that Mboweni expected to leave after his second term contract expired.

Mboweni’s parting remark to journalists at the conference was “See you next time.” Since the next monetary policy committee meeting is scheduled for August 12-13 –after his contract expires – journalists at the time queried whether this meant he would be staying on.

Currently Aaron Mminele, Xolile Guma and Renosi Mokate serve as the SARB’s deputy governors. – Sapa

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