PARLIAMENT, November 7 – Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is a lame duck after less than a month in the post, Democratic Alliance finance spokesman David Maynier said on Wednesday.
Maynier said Mboweni received a putdown from President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday when he told Parliament there were no plans to shut down loss-making national carrier South African Airways.
“The new finance minister’s big mistake was to express heretical views on how to save zombie state-owned airline, South African Airways. The effect of the ‘smack down’ was to cast the finance minister as a likable old man, who says what he thinks, but who is on the fringes of power, and who has very little, or no, influence on economic policy,” Maynier said.
Mboweni has repeatedly made a case for closing down the airline, saying he believed plans to find a private equity partner were doomed because nobody would be ready to take on its debt of some R21 billion.
On Sunday, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan issued a blunt statement that the airline must redouble efforts to turn itself around in order to find an equity partner in the near future. Gordhan received not only Ramaphosa’s support on Tuesday, but that of African National Congress (ANC) secretary general Ace Magashule who told media there were no plans to dispose of SAA.
Said Maynier: “The real question now is whether Tito Mboweni is a ‘lame duck’ finance minister who will serve as a placeholder until the general election, and will then be forced back into political exile.”
He added that he planned to submit a written question in Parliament to ask Ramaphosa whether he still had confidence in his new minister.
“There are clearly deep divisions within government, and within the governing party, on how to fix the economy, which explains why there are 9.75 million people who do not have jobs, or who have given up looking for jobs, in South Africa.” (ANA)