1 March 2020
Conscience of a Centrist
Can the real Tito Mboweni please stand up! His twitter alter ego could run this economy much better than the lacklustre, timid man who stood in front of the nation on Wednesday and said nothing new and innovative.
Having perused his tweets over the past few months – one was left with an impression of a man with a cause – a man who leads the charge for the much-awaited and delayed structural reforms.
But what we heard on Wednesday was a mash up of Trevor Manuel, Pravin Gordhan and a sprinkle of Nhlanhla Nene, and a bit of Malusi Gigaba – and oh, a fleeting image of Des van Rooyen.
Expecting this government to decisively restructure the economy is akin to expecting a Fiat Uno to perfom like a Maserati.
If Mboweni’s speech looked like anything close to the ideas Mboweni often tweets about – the economy would be set on a growth path.
But alas, the Mboweni who exists on Twitter and the Mboweni constrained by the polarising politics of the tripiarte alliance and their competing interests are two different souls.
Mboweni last week tweeted that the government, of which he is a critical part, should consider a referendum on state “assets” like the ailing national carrier SAA.
In typical South African style, his tweet drew both praise and scorn – with those in the latter group dismissing the idea outright.
But a referendum on Eskom, SAA and other embattled state-owned entities is exactly what the country needs.
It is high time these entities face their Brexit moment – the people who time and again are asked to bail out these companies should have a say on whether they still have an appetite to keep throwing good money after bad, or they imagine a different future.
The health of South Africa’s economy cannot be a battle of ideas between the radical left and the stubborn right of our body politic – the people must be heard.
The contribution of South Africans in shaping the future cannot be reduced to just voting and comments on draft bills.
To think all the problems this economy and country face will be solved by parties represented in parliament is folly.
The question whether to privatise Eskom and SAA or keep them under state control has become a singularly important issue of national importance that the public must be the final arbiters on the matter since they are the ones who carry the burden of these entities’ mounting debt.
The adage that the people must govern is more apt today than at any time in history.