Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has refuted media reports that he “caved in” to the African National Congress National Executive Committee (ANC NEC) over his alleged proposal to liquidate the South African Airways (SAA).
On Sunday, City Press reported that Mboweni’s proposal was “defeated” at the ANC NEC meeting and Lekgotla held last weekend. The ANC decided to restructure the embattled national airline instead.
Based on the City Press report, EWN also published an article with the headline, “Reports: Mboweni caves in to ANC refusal to liquidate SAA.”
‘Caves in my foot!’
A seemingly upset Mboweni later tweeted that the reports were “false, suspicious and malicious.”
He wrote, “I was at the UK-Africa Investment Summit when the NEC and the Lekgotla concluded. How does one ‘cave in’ in absentia? This story is false, suspicious and malicious. Watch the space.”
In subsequent tweets, the Minister added, “Not so long ago, there was the phenomenon of ‘EMBEDDED JOURNALISTS!’ Watch out for some sustained classical propaganda offensive against reason. ‘Caves in’ my foot!! Decisions yes, whether correct or not, history will be the judge.
“@City_Press, you should never write (although within your democratic rights), that a Mboweni ‘caves in.’ We don’t do that. But we listen to debate and politically intellectual argument. But ‘cave in’! We do not do that.”
The ANC NEC decided to retain SAA as a national airline and to restructure it. It asked the National Treasury, which Mboweni leads, to immediately avail the R2 billion it had pledged to SAA.
The struggling airline is under business rescue and the practitioners, Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, are expected to outline a final costing of the restructuring process.
SAA cancelled some flights recently, with reports suggesting that this was part of the restructuring. The cancelled routes were reportedly costly but had low demand.
Mboweni has previously been emphatic that SAA needed to be “shut down” in favour of a new airline.
Speaking at the 6th SA Tomorrow Investment Conference in New York in November 2018, he said, “It’s very clear to me that you’re unlikely to sort out the situation. So my view would be – close it down.”