Mboweni: Brics bank can wait

Former central bank governor says the country would benefit more from an oil refinery in Coega than spending the money to host the Brics bank

Former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni has called on South African politicians to be honest on matters of the economy, capital and corruption.

Addressing business leaders and academics in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, this week during the launch of the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) journal, Perspectives, Mboweni accused government of failing to run its own entities, specifically Telkom, the SABC and SAA.

Responding to a question on the proposed setting up of a state-owned steel company, he warned against nationalisation.

He said: “I do not believe in nationalisation. The ANC government does not know how to run most things it owns. Look at what we are doing with Telkom.

“We do not know how to run an airline (SAA), the SABC is meant to just broadcast, just that, and we don’t know how to run it.”

Answering a question about the setting up of a Brics bank and government’s request to have it headquartered in South Africa, Mboweni said: “This discussion about the Brics bank being located here in South Africa is very interesting.

“We love things to be located here, but these things are very costly. I would rather take that money and build the Coega Petro SA oil refinery here in Port Elizabeth.”

He also dismissed the notion that governments could create jobs. “Be wary of any politician who comes to you now promising jobs. There are no jobs.

Any politician who promises jobs now is lying.

“There has been a substantial change in the nature of the South African economy that we must accept and deal with.”

Mboweni added: “Despite the significant developments we have made, the problems have not gone away. In fact, they have gotten worse. In my view, we have reached the point where we require the most focused national attention to deal with the problems.

“We cannot be shy to approach other countries in the world that are experiencing a labour shortage and see if they can take some of our people.”

The former labour minister also lashed out at teacher union Sadtu for interfering in education and causing chaos. He also hit out at parents for not participating in the education of their children by not attending school governing body (SGB) meetings.

Mboweni said it was surprising that black parents do not attend SGB meetings in townships, but when they move to the suburbs, they do.

According to him, the education system is not producing the number of skilled people needed to access sectors that hold the bigger slice of the economy.

“We need larger numbers of people with structured post-matric qualifications to be able to enter these sectors,” he said, while calling on government to “urgently” recommit itself to education.

“The education budget is enough for us to achieve our objectives. The problem is the content and the attitudes.”

On corruption, Mboweni, who is the chairperson of AngloGold Ashanti, and is also a member of the ANC’s national working committee, said that policy and law makers must know that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and that no politician was above this document.

He said: “People who draft laws sometimes forget that one day they might have to stand in frontof the court and be judged by the very same laws they have made. Any benefit that is not due to you is corruption.”

He added that capital is not white monopoly capital any more, saying the nature of South African capital has shifted to embrace global and more diverse participation.

“Capital nowadays includes pension funds from government, hedge funds and other investment capital from various groupings including labour unions, making it difficult to pin the origin of capital as exclusively white,” he said.

»?Perspectives is a journal initiated four years ago by the CDC in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. It seeks to stimulate debate among professionals, specialists and young academics on issues of industrial and economic development

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