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By Adiel Ismail
Cape Town – Respected former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene has been appointed as the acting director of the Wits Business School (WBS).
“It gives me great pleasure to join the WBS that will enable me to share my knowledge, experience and networks in order to empower and work with young, talented individuals, academics and business leaders,” he said about his new role.
Nene, who was keen to rein in government spending, joined Thebe Investment Corporation as a resident advisor and Allan Gray as a non- executive director months after he was fired by President Jacob Zuma.
At the time of Nene’s shock axing, which wiped out billions on the JSE, Zuma indicated that he had been earmarked for a post at the Brics bank based in Johannesburg.
It is widely believed that Nene was booted out of office over his resistance to the government’s costly nuclear build programme and a loss-making SAA deal.
At the time economist Dawie Roodt told Fin24 Nene would likely land a cushy directorship within the private sector.
Nene said his appointment at WBS, which is effective from July 2017 until a permanent head of school is found, would not have been possible without the support of the Thebe Investment Corporation.
“Partnering with the WBS gives us the opportunity to contribute to the development and empowerment of business leaders and managers of the future,” said Thebe Investment Corporation chairperson Vusi Khanyile.
Once a new head of school is appointed, Nene will continue to serve as an Honorary Professor and a Scholar in Residence at the WBS.
So Fmr Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene is appointed Interim Director of Wits Business School – I think they spelt 'Brics Bank' incorrectly
— Arabile Gumede (@ArabileG) June 30, 2017
Professor Adam Habib, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Witwatersrand, praised Nene.
“[H]is political credence, business acumen and remarkable intellect places him in good stead to lead the WBS as the search for a permanent head commences”.
Habib said Nene’s leadership, advice and insight, at what he called a pivotal time in the country’s economic trajectory, will add value to the quality of courses, public lectures, debates and research at WBS.
After Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane suggested that the government initiate a process to change the Constitution to alter the SARB’s primary objective, Nene defended the SA Reserve Bank as a shining star in SA.
Although he made it clear that he was not sure of the context in which the Public Protector recommended the change, Nene suggested a thorough reading of the Constitution on the role of the Reserve Bank.
“It is very clear. It does not preclude the bank addressing the issue of growth, but it is in the context of price stability,” he told Fin24. “It is not just about inflation targeting per se, but it is price stability.”
Nene explained that the SARB doesn’t just forecast inflation without taking into account issues such as growth and employment on a sustainable basis.
When asked if the SARB is doing a good job, Nene replied: “It is actually one of the strengths.”
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