Tito and Treasury versus the rest: High-noon in South Africa
The economic discussion paper released by National Treasury - under the aegis of Finance Minister Tito Mboweni - has predictably led to an outcry within the ANC and the broader governing alliance. Opponents of drastic economic reform, many who sit in the heart of the party and in the SACP and Cosatu, are vehemently opposed to most, if not all, reforms proposed by Treasury. And others are peeved at not having been consulted.
South Africa's economy is in a precarious position. The reforms mooted by Mboweni ever since his first major budget speech in October last year has not materialised. Our national debt is growing, the budget deficit is becoming a gaping hole and economic policy remains contested. Add into the mix ANC infighting and a president seemingly reluctant to lead, and its clear why we’re paralysed.
What's also clear is that there is no more room left to manoeuvre, and that bold and urgent decisions must be taken. Mboweni, in last October's medium-term budget speech and in February's budget speech, has shown himself willing to take the flak if it means moving the country out of the quagmire of inaction. In this week's edition of News24's Friday Briefing, economist Thabo Leoka argues that it's time for ideologues to get out of the way, while analyst Mpumelelo Mkhabela says Mboweni won't get anywhere unless Ramaphosa supports him openly and honestly.
Pieter du Toit
Assistant editor: In-depth news
Reaction to National Treasury's economic discussion paper is reminiscent of the reaction to the National Development Plan in 2012. But this time around the economy is going belly up - its time for the ideologues to get out of the way.
Finance minister Tito Mboweni is clearly ready for battle as he attempts to revive and reform the economy. But he'll get nowhere unless he gets President Cyril Ramaphosa's direct and explicit backing.