Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will be a lame duck if he does not fight further SAA bailout. This is according to the Democratic Alliance’s MP, Geordin Hill-Lewis who said Mboweni has accepted defeat in the battle to stop any further bailout of the embattled national airline.
Hill-Lewis said the confirmation by Minister of Public Enterprise Pravin Gordhan that SAA will be bailed out again represents a crushing defeat for Mboweni’s long running fight to stop any further public bailouts of the airline.
The Department of Public Enterprise confirmed on Friday 18 September 2020 that government will reprioritise funds to finalise the restructuring of the airline and the implementation of the airline’s business rescue plan.
Calling on Mboweni to do what is right for the country and not for his party, Hill-Lewis said the Minister should not accept defeat so meekly and should dig in his heels and refuse to fund the bailout.
South Africa needs a Finance Minister who will stand firm against political pressure and hold the line. If he does not, he will be a lame duck Finance Minister who is no longer in control of government spending.
According to Hill-Lewis, theirs is not a battle about SAA but rather about the principle that public money should not be poured endlessly into failing state-owned companies, when other truly essential public services on which the poor depend are so underfunded.
That Gordhan made the announcement, and not Mboweni, is a pointed insult to the Finance Minister by his own Cabinet colleague. If he can’t win ‘no brainer’ fights like this, then he will never succeed in getting public spending under control, and there is little point in staying in the government.
Furthermore Hill-Lewis said the bailout also undermines the credibility of President Ramaphosa’s commitment to real economic reform agenda which is centred on reducing debt and restoring fiscal discipline.
With less than a month left before the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, it will be impossible for Mboweni to speak about public expenditure reduction when it is clear that he no longer has the full support of President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Cabinet to achieve this objective.