The return of Tito Mboweni to mainstream politics is rapidly becoming as polarising as it was unexpected. Having spent the better part of SA’s lost economic decade on the sidelines rather than at the heart of it all, Mboweni predictably gravitates towards logical and economic analysis when commenting on the state of public enterprises. As the cabinet minister in charge of a public purse that has been depleted through bail-outs of state-owned entities, he has to align his economic analysis with the political nuances associated with his post. So far his efforts have been dismal. On a recent trip to the US — probably on an SAA flight — Mboweni said the best thing to do with the hopelessly unprofitable airline was to simply shut it down. This was days after he had announced, as finance minister, another bailout/guarantee for the airline. At this stage, the distinction between the bail-outs, which are actual cash transfers, and the guarantees, which are potential cash transfers from the ...

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