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Tito's pique is not interest rates

By unknown | Jun 05, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Don Makatile

Don Makatile

While the interest rate hikes have become the subject of discussion even in such hallowed places as the shebeens, you'd be forgiven for thinking the governor of the SA Reserve Bank (SARB) worries about the same things too.

But alas, Tito Mboweni's immediate pique is not about the tough times ahead that have the cash-strapped in a spin, but which picture of him is used in the papers.

As a result, the art of photography got a kick in the teeth yesterday when the governor's office convened a meeting at the bank's offices to inform practitioners they will no longer be allowed a free hand in taking pictures of Mboweni. The SARB plans to employ an official photographer whose pictures will then be disseminated to the media, the meeting heard.

His love-hate relationship with the lens began when a photographer wanted a picture of him with someone "the governor wasn't comfortable being seen with".

His pleas not to be photographed fell on deaf ears as the photographer went to extremes, hiding behind bushes to take the forbidden shot, said Samantha Henkeman, media and research assistant in the office of the governor.

Some have even invited his ire by attempting to take pictures of him as he went through his speech backstage before a function, Henkeman said.

The final straw was when he was pictured wiping his brow.

Such restrictions around photographing the governor are not unique to South Africa, Henkeman said, using examples of Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve.

The staff was at pains to explain that all central bankers were pretty conservative and that, as an example, there were very few pictures of Greenspan going around.

The SARB says it hopes to keep the private life of the governor just that, private - and away from the newspapers.

Public pictures of Jean-Claude Trichet, the President of the European Central Bank, are not only the stiff-upper-lip official ones that Mboweni insists on.

It remains puzzling why the governor would stress over how he's captured in the news pages when he does not suffer the same sickness as the late freedom fighter Alfred Nzo, whose pictures of him caught dozing through official functions are a dime a dozen.


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