SA's fortunes in the hands of Mboweni

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni
Image: Esa Alexander

The coming week is going to be an important one for finance minister Tito Mboweni. This is not because yesterday he made headlines in a tabloid newspaper for allegedly being in a "love triangle" that includes mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe.

As entertaining as that story might be, what happens or does not happen in the privacy of a finance minister's bedroom is the least of our concerns.

What is paramount to us is that he does not squander the opportunity he has on Wednesday to help turn the fortunes of our economy around when he delivers his medium-term budget in parliament. It is an important speech that will not only give us an indication of how the government plans to pull us out of the current economic crisis, but Mboweni's remarks will be closely watched by international rating agencies.

Given the less than satisfactory economic growth rate, the ongoing problems in key state-owned companies that are supposed to drive much of the economic growth as well as ongoing dithering over policy decisions, it is no surprise that many economists are suggesting that the country would soon be downgraded by rating agencies.

On Wednesday, we expect Mboweni to announce a medium-term budget with clear plans about solving current problems and laying a solid foundation for future economic growth.

There have been many debates over the years as to which economic policy model to follow, but the time has now come for implementation.

Unemployment continues to grow, especially among the black youth. Mboweni's plan should also include ways of reversing this trend.

We live in the most unequal society in the world and we cannot wish that away. Although former National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete likes to say the International Monetary Fund is not god, our fortunes are liked to the rest of the world.

If we are to change the bleak status quo, we need radical economic reforms and the cooperation of all social partners for the realisation of such reforms.

For that to happen, it starts with Mboweni - strongly backed by President Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet - mapping out the way forward.

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