In the coming weeks and months the business rescue of SAA is going to redefine our political economy. The decision to put it into business rescue was brave. Less brave ministers in finance and the department of public enterprises have previously kicked the can down the road, refusing to face up to the inevitable. But we are now so far down the road that the end point is visible on the horizon: the bankruptcy of the whole state.

I doubt anyone has taken that prospect seriously (and, to be clear, it is some way down the road). But if we don’t take it seriously now, we will find ourselves there before we know it. SAA has proved that it cannot evolve into a viable business in which revenue exceeds costs. It is losing money continuously and its liabilities swamp assets. The choice was simple: either the government funds its losses interminably or cuts it off.

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