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Tito Mboweni: South Africa’s finance minster known for a Twitter roast chicken fail



By Pumza Fihlani
BBC News, Johannesburg

image copyrightReuters

Far from the cliché of a grey-suited quiet man of numbers, South Africa’s Finance Minister Tito Mboweni appears to relish stirring up trouble on Twitter both at home and abroad.

His most recent tweets to his more than 870,000 followers criticising the president of neighbouring Zambia earned him the wrath of many in that country, and a chastisement from his own President, Cyril Ramaphosa.

But the well-respected economist is affectionately known on Twitter in South Africa as “Uncle Tito” for his more domestic concerns.

Crying from chillies

While the 61-year-old tweets about a number of issues, his posts on what he is making for dinner are what gets most reaction from ordinary South Africans. But he is, let’s say, not as talented in the kitchen as he is with numbers.

His dishes are simple and hearty and the man loves his chillies and garlic, oodles of either usually have pride of place on the plate – much to the shock of those with sensitive palates.

One of his most notorious tweets showed him with beads of sweat running down his face from the kick of a newly discovered concoction with chillies.

image copyright@tito_mboweni

He may be a serious man but he is not afraid to be the butt of a joke.

His cooking recently gained further attention over his roast chicken – not one of his finer moments, even by his own admission.

image copyright@tito_mboweni

South Africans took the opportunity to mock him over the culinary disaster with rugby captain Siya Kolisi using the moment to show his own skills in the kitchen.

image copyright@SiyaKolisi_Bear

Apart from posting his “meal-for-one” dinners, he does also write about his frustrations at the state of the economy and world events, but his candidness has sometimes put him at loggerheads with other officials.

‘Stop this nonsense’

In the latest episode of Mr Mboweni’s “I-tweet-what-I-like” series, the finance minister got embroiled in Zambian affairs.

Last weekend, reacting to President Edgar Lungu’s sacking of Zambia’s central bank governor, Denny Kalyalya, he wrote: “Presidents in Africa must stop this nonsense of waking up in the morning and fire a Central Bank Governor! You cannot do that.

“This is not some fiefdom of yours! Your personal property?! No!”

He continued: “That Governor was a good fella. Why do we do these things as Africans. The President of Zambia must give us the reasons why he dismissed The Governor – or else hell is on its way. I will mobilize!”

After a backlash from Lusaka, Mr Mboweni in typical outspokenness refused to back down: “Looks like I am in trouble about my statement on the dismissal of the Bank of Zambia Governor! I stand by my statement. Central Bank independence is key. Not negotiable. Let all central bankers speak out!”

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionPresident Cyril Ramaphosa (L) has had to reprimand his finance minister over some of his tweets

The tweets were later deleted. But the damage was already done and the Zambians were not impressed.

South Africa’s president reprimanded him over the tweets and issued an apology to the Zambian government over what he described as “unfortunate remarks” and promised to make sure the incident does not happen again.

However, he did not spell out how this would be prevented.

It’s not that Mr Mboweni is combative, it’s that unlike some ministers who are equally popular on Twitter, he does not seem to mind going against the party’s line to say what he believes in.

Not just a keyboard warrior

This has won him the admiration of some. They see him as a man who does not simply sing for his supper.

Mr Mboweni is not just a Twitter struggler – he was one in real life.

After going into exile in neighbouring Lesotho in 1980 for his activism against white-minority rule in South Africa, he joined the African National Congress (ANC).

He is now one of the governing party’s longest serving members and has occupied several influential positions over the years.

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He was the country’s first black central bank governor between 1999 and 2009 and has been a fierce defender of its independence, publicly opposing an ANC policy to bring the bank under direct government control.

This might also explain his views on what happened in Zambia.

He was born in 1959 in Tzaneen, a small town in Limpopo province, one of South Africa’s poorer provinces, at a time when black people were excluded from certain types of employment and education, and were not free to move around the country.

The youngest of three children, Mr Mboweni had a modest upbringing and is celebrated for getting to the top through his own hard work.

He got a BA degree in economics and political science in Lesotho followed by a master’s degree in development economics at the UK’s University of East Anglia.

Fearless fighter

Those on the left of the governing ANC are suspicious of his more liberal economic approach, which they see as too business friendly.

He is not afraid to take on anyone who he disagrees with in his party.

Last year, he publicly rowed with the ANC premier of Gauteng province, David Makhura, over whether motorists should continue to pay electronic road tolls.

The ANC had promised that it would get rid of the contentious payments.

But Mr Mboweni said on Twitter: “I don’t know why the middle and upper classes in Gauteng want to complicate our lives. The working class do not pay e-tolls! Public transport! Hello”.

Mr Makhura disagreed and the two men got a talking-to from the president over their public spat – the sort you get when called into the principal’s office at school.

He has also called for the legalisation of cannabis, saying he wanted to get more tax revenue, and even posted a picture of a cannabis plant that had sprouted up on his property.

image copyright@tito_mboweni

There is a playful edge to much of what Mr Mboweni tweets and he can often bring levity into the political arena.

But he is a senior government official, hand-picked by the president to handle an important portfolio, and some of his rants, like the tweets excoriating the Zambian president, have been interpreted as divisive and unhelpful.

Nevertheless, being ticked off in the past has not put the man off and South Africans are set to continue to enjoy a serving of Uncle Tito’s spicy rants.

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Another blow as Judge throws out Kiggundu’s lawyer Muwema



When court sat on Friday to hear the Kiggundu’s application to stop independent audit, he did not have a written application, and Justice Henry Adonyo instead ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer Fred Muwema to go make a written application seeking court to dismiss the audit and return to court on September 30 for a hearing of the application. But this adds more pressure on Kiggundu who is choking with the loans.

On 31 August, the judge ordered the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) to carry out and independent audit into the accounts of the businessman and financial statements exchanged between the two parties, and present a report to court.

When asked by journalists why he has filed for an application seeking dismissal of the audit, Fred Muwema had this to say. “We are saying that let the validity and legality of those credit facilities (loans) be decided first before you can audit” He said.

The ruling on the application of the main suit to determine whether the businessman owes loan arrears to the bank is set for 5th October 2020, after which a date for hearing of the case will be set.


Hamis Kiggundu through his companies Ham enterprises and Kiggs International (U) ltd sued DTB branches in Kenya and Uganda for deducting money from his accounts something which the bank contends and said they only acted as per the loan agreement of deducting 30% from Kiggundu’s accounts to recover the credit facilities rendered to him between February 2011 and September 2016

But Court documents filed by the bank in their defense shows that Kiggundu, between February 2011 and September 2016, was granted various credit facilities by the said DTB Banks.

First, via Ham Enterprises Limited, Kiggundu obtained a loan of $6,663,453 and another Sh2.5bn from the DTB (U) to finance his projects in the real estate business.

Later, according to New Vision, he got a facility worth $4.5m through Kiggs International (U) Limited from DTB (K) and mortgaged his properties, which include Plot 328 located at Kawuku on Block 248 Kyadondo, three plots that include 36, 37 and 38 on Folio 1533 Victoria Crescent II situated in Kyadondo and land on Makerere Hill Road on LRV 3716 Folio 10 Plot 923 Block 9.

Documents show that as of January 21, 2020, Kiggundu was in default on payment obligations of $6.298m on the loan facility of $6.663m, as well as sh2.885b on the demand overdraft facility of sh1.5b and the temporary demand overdraft facility of sh1b.

The banks say that Kiggundu was in default on the payment of another $3.662m out of a total loan facility of $4m and another $458,604 on a loan facility of $500,000, as of January 21, 2020.

The DTB consequently served him with a demand notice to either pay up or lose the assets that he submitted as collateral security. The bank threatened to attach a plot on Makerere Hill Road and other prime commercial properties.

Analysts says that Kiggundu’s lawyer is playing delaying tactics aimed at stopping the independent audit as ordered by the court earlier. Kiggundu had wanted court to believe his own audit of loan transactions, but that would amount to injustice to the banks that gave him money-DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya.

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded




The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19




Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  

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