Africa in the news: South African finance minister steps down and Cameroon’s elections

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By Nirav Patel

South African Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene resigns

On Thursday, South African finance minister Nhlanhla Nene resigned. The resignation follows a string of allegations connecting Nene with the Guptas, a wealthy South African family that repeatedly finds itself in the purview of political scandals. This controversy emerges at a time when Cyril Ramaphosa, the current president of South Africa, had made it a pledge of his campaign to restore public trust, confidence, and stability in the government after Jacob Zuma’s presidency. As such, Ramaphosa accepted Nene’s resignation despite having no formal charges against Nene.

Immediately following Nene’s departure, Ramaphosa appointed Tito Mboweni as South African finance minister. Mboweni, a trained economist, previously served as head of the South African Reserve Bank and as a labor minister in President Nelson Mandela’s cabinet. Mboweni is praised for rebuilding South Africa’s foreign exchange reserves to almost $40 billion from less than $10 billion during his tenure. So far, the markets seem to have regained confidence. Following the news, the rand rose making up for losses earlier.

Cameroon roiled by contested election

Earlier this week, opposition candidate Maurice Kamto claimed election victory ahead of the official election results announcement. Unofficial and unverified election results numbers have flooded social media in Cameroon, which in the past the government has been accused of repressing internet freedom especially during election time. The early announcement by Kampto has been fueled with controversy escalating political tensions in the country.

Gregoire Owona, deputy secretary-general of the incumbent Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement party, has accused Mr. Kamto of breaking the law by claiming victory prior to the release of official results. The votes are still being counted with many experts expecting President Paul Biya to return for a seventh term. For further insights on Cameroon’s democratic future, David M. Rubenstein Fellow Landry Signe’s recent article.