New SAA board shows Cabinet taking responsibility - Mkhize

Premier Zweli Mkhize
Premier Zweli Mkhize

Johannesburg – The appointment of a new SAA board is a step forward, according to ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize.

Mkhize was addressing media and business leaders at the Sanlam offices in Sandton on Tuesday night, and shared on the economic outlook for the country and the way forward following the local election results.

“What is most positive is that Cabinet is taking responsibility for what has happened.” It shows government and Cabinet looked at various issues before taking a decision to replace the board, said Mkhize. “SAA should operate at a level that is competitive with other airlines, and is able to run without government guarantees.”

Mkhize said it would be ideal for all state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to be independent, to run efficiently and to be self-sustaining, without having to rely on government subsidies.

READ: Analysis: Digging deeper into SAA's new board

He also said that the president’s SOE oversight counsel is purely a recommendation, and not something the government has concluded. “It is not about bringing new powers for the president.”

Mkhize said that government and the private sector must be open to discuss such issues with each other.  “There can’t be a time where we avoid each other, especially if we think a situation is tough.

“Sometimes we need a crisis to realise we need each other,” he said as he made reference to December 9, when former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene was removed from his post. The event saw the rand plummet.

“Out of that something positive has come. There is more meaningful consultation and negotiation between government and the private sector,” he said.

Averting a downgrade

To avoid a downgrade in December, Mkhize said that South Africans should do their bit, not necessarily to “impress the visitors” but to take themselves forward. “We must do it to make a better life for ourselves.” He added that the 3.3% growth in gross domestic product for the second quarter should be celebrated, following a “tense” first quarter.  

READ: Fears grow of ratings downgrade - OAM

Despite the areas of weakness, Mkhize said it is important to acknowledge the country’s strengths. Among these include the independence of its commercial and financial institutions, as well as Treasury and the fact that the country has a stable democracy. “Every five years there are elections and the results are respected,” he said. “There is no way we will have a regime outside the will of the people.”

He said that managing matters should not make people “uncomfortable” about the sense of political stability in the country. He was referring to reports on the Hawks probe into Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Mkhize said it was important to “hold onto the fact” that the president, deputy president and ruling party expressed confidence in the minister.

He added that discussions between government and business should lead to solutions that support economic growth, draw investment and create more jobs.

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