President Cyril Ramaphosa “smacked down” his new Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, yesterday in Parliament.
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.
The new finance minister appears to have been banished to an investor conference abroad this week and will not be present to debate the revised fiscal framework for 2018/19 today in Parliament.
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.
Which is why I will submit a parliamentary question probing whether President Cyril Ramaphosa still has confidence in his new finance minister, despite his heretical views on how to deal with zombie state-owned enterprises, like South African Airways.
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.