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

Tito Mboweni may be SA’s finance minister, but he remains the epitome of a central banker in character: resolutely independent of thought, captured by nobody. In some senses, it is a surprise that he could remain a member of a political party, so unlikely is he to toe any particular line.

This is why, even after he’d been asked by his party, the ANC, to desist from discussing the ailing SAA, Mboweni couldn’t resist it in an interview with the Financial Times. "If it was my personal money, I wouldn’t put one cent into SAA," he said.

He resorted to analogy to make the point about the airline: "If I were running a chicken farm and I kept on putting in inputs, but I wasn’t getting any eggs, I would close it down." This, of course, is the rational answer to SAA’s predicament. He’s said the same about PetroSA, another sieve into which the government continues to pour desperately needed resources. This is exactly what you’d want of a central banker (Mboweni’s former position) and a finance minister (his current one). It is not, however, what a ruling party that has no pragmatic grasp of austerity measures for state-owned companies understands.

President Cyril Ramaphosa should move mountains to ensure Mboweni stays: we have too few economically sensible people in the cabinet as it is.