Leaders of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) have called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to bring Tito Mboweni to order following the finance minister’s critique of government.
Mboweni, who has been vocal on several issues concerning government’s handling of the coronavirus-induced lockdown, has not won many friends within his own political party. Recently, Mboweni revealed that cracks of factional division were beginning to form around the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC).
While Mboweni enjoys a wave a public support, largely due to his outspokenness at a time when citizens feel subjugated by restrictive government regulations, forces within government have been less forgiving of the finance minister’s outbursts.
Mboweni questions his role in politics
The finance minister recently took to Twitter to voice his concerns over government policy. In what has been described as a moment of existential dread, Mboweni questioned his purpose in politics and compared collective obedience to the uncomfortable act of “swallowing a rock”.
Mboweni first drew fire from his colleagues when, before parliament, he voiced his discontent with the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEEE) codes which had been applied to relief funds for small businesses. Mboweni said he could not support an economic policy, instituted during a time of national crisis, which was based on racial categorisations.
The finance minister added that he had opposed government’s decision to continue the prohibition of alcohol and tobacco but was ultimately overruled. Mboweni said:
“I didn’t like the continuous ban on tobacco and alcohol but I lost the debate and therefore I have to toe the line.”
Possible disciplinary action looms
Speaking on the sidelines of a food donation drive on Wednesday morning, ANC Treasurer-General Paul Mashatile revealed that the party’s top brass had called for Mboweni to be reined in. As party leader, the responsibility for recourse rests solely with Ramaphosa. Mashatile added:
“At the end of the day, once a decision has been taken, we want everybody to own up to it so that we protect decisions that we make… once we start talking in different voices, it’s not a discipline that we know in the ANC.
He [Mboweni] is going to be spoken to by the president to say what he did was wrong. If behaviour like that continues after you have been spoken to… the organisation might take you to a disciplinary process.”
President Ramaphosa, whose protracted silence over the past three weeks has been heavily criticised, is expected to announce the nation on Wednesday night at 20:30.