Finance minister Tito Mboweni. Picture: RUVAN BOSHOFF
Finance minister Tito Mboweni. Picture: RUVAN BOSHOFF

Finance minister Tito Mboweni took to Twitter in the early hours of Friday morning, calling for an end to the “inertia” holding back structural economic reforms in SA. 

As the country starts off the new year battling load-shedding, and shrinking expectations for growth, Mboweni warned that “if you cannot effect deep structural economic reforms, then game over”. 

“Stay as you are and you are downgraded to Junck Status! [sic]  The consequences are dire,” Mboweni tweeted.

The country needs to move forward with the reforms outlined in the National Treasury’s economic strategy paper, said Mboweni.

The document was first put forward in the lead up to last year’s medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS), but was met with a frosty reception by the ANC’s alliance partners and allies union federation Cosatu, and the SACP.

Though Cyril Ramaphosa took over the presidency in early 2018, promising to revitalise the economy, tensions within the ruling party have muddied the waters regarding the direction of economic policy.

Mboweni’s tweets come as SA is still experiencing rolling blackouts by Eskom, which is weighing on already dismal expectations for economic growth.

On Wednesday, the World Bank’s cut its 2020 growth forecasts for SA to 0.9% citing persistent policy uncertainty, constrained fiscal space, weak business confidence, and poor electricity supply.

Meanwhile, Nedbank has cut its expectations of growth for the year thanks to risks posed by power cuts and lack of policy implementation.

Data released on Thursday revealed that business confidence for 2019 averaged 34-year lows, and worse-than-expected November factory output firmed up expectations that SA closed out the year with two consecutive quarters of economic contraction — a technical recession.

donnellyl@businesslive.co.za