The idea that the new minister of finance, Tito Mboweni, would restore the National Treasury to the centre of decision making on the economy has been turned on its head, it seems. Mboweni entered the Treasury’s revolving doors with a reputation for shooting from the hip, which, during his decade as Reserve Bank governor until 2009, was known as "open-mouth operations". After he left the Bank, he flirted with "radical economic transformation", calling for the extension of state ownership of the mining sector, the establishment of state banks and the creation of a sovereign wealth fund. So it comes as no surprise that Mboweni landed in hot political water for expressing a heretical view on dealing with zombie-like state-owned enterprises (SOEs) like SAA. When he told investors in New York that SAA was loss-making and should be closed down, it was prominently reported in the Financial Times. But his call to close down SAA seems to have sent shock waves through the governing party, whic...

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