I don't take Tito Mboweni seriously on privatising SOEs, says David Mabuza

Deputy president David Mabuza shocked opposition MPs with his remarks about finance minister Tito Mboweni's proposal to privatise some of the struggling state-owned companies.
Deputy president David Mabuza shocked opposition MPs with his remarks about finance minister Tito Mboweni's proposal to privatise some of the struggling state-owned companies.
Image: Masi Losi

Deputy president David Mabuza has told MPs that he does not take seriously finance minister Tito Mboweni's proposal that some of the struggling state-owned companies (SOEs) should be privatised.

Mabuza made the statement while responding to an oral question from DA MP Natasha Mazzone, who wanted to know if he supported Mboweni's privatisation ideas.

Mboweni raised the matter of privatisation when he tabled his budget last month, asking MPs whether it still made sense for government to retain struggling SOEs such as Eskom, SAA and the SABC in their current form.

But responding to Mazzone on Tuesday, the deputy president said he did not take Mboweni seriously on the matter because he had not articulated formal government policy.

"There's no manga manga business … No, I don't think that's the way we should approach this debate, whether there are certain entities that must be privatised, certain SOEs. This debate cannot be approached this way and I don't really take the minister of finance seriously when he's making comments," said Mabuza amid audible gasps from opposition MPs.

"These are his own comments ... We'll take the minister seriously when he's articulating government positions, but when he's talking about his views, when he's tweeting, that's his own.

"I am not going to entertain a tweet by the minister. I am not going to take that seriously, it's not a government position, thank you very much," Mabuza added.

IFP chief whip Narend Singh, who was next in line after Mazzone to ask Mabuza questions, said he was shocked by the remarks.

He said he was surprised that a "members of the executive, a deputy president nogal" was not agreeing with his own minister of finance.

When Mazzone raised the issue again during her second bite at the cherry, Mabuza stood by his comments.

"I think we must clear this one, me and you. Whatever the minister of finance said relating to privatisation, which is not the position of government, it's the opinion of the minister.

"The president [Cyril Ramaphosa] stood here and said there's no intention to privatise Eskom or SAA, period. Whether the minister wishes so, that's his opinion. There's one thing that I've learnt, when you're a minister, when you're in this position, you desist to be an individual. You work within a collective and don't just stand and say whatever you want to say," he said.


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