Ramaphosa defends government’s SAA bailout

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has told the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) that it would be disastrous for the economy if government allows the cash-strapped South African Airways to be grounded. He has also conceded that the size of Cabinet is something that needs to be given a thought.

He was answering questions in the National Council of Provinces.

Ramaphosa has defended government’s continuous bailout given to the South African Airways. This follows the latest bailout of about R3 billion given to SAA in September. This bailout including the one given to the Post Office has led to the possibility that the expenditure ceiling could be breached by R3.9 billion.

Ramaphosa says it would be disastrous for government to allow SAA to be grounded.

“If government were to fold its arms and allow SAA to fail it could be a real catastrophe not only for SAA but for our economy as well because SAA has its debt guaranteed by government now if SAA were to default, that defaulting will run across other guarantees that government has given not only to SAA to Transet, Eskom, Prasa but other government-owned entities.”

In addition to cost-cutting measures, other MPs questioned Ramaphosa about the size of the Cabinet.

The size of President Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet has been criticised in some quarters and is said to be costly to the taxpayers. Some members believe that if the size of the Cabinet could be reduced, that would save the taxpayers a lot of money that can be pumped up in other key projects to stimulate economic growth.

Ramaphosa says this matter needs to be given a thought.

“The question of the size of the executive is a matter obviously, that is decided upon in many ways by the president and its composition is something in terms of size that has been talked about on a number of occasions and a number of people have come with proposals that if you were to reduce the executive it would save quite a lot of cost. These are matters that need to be given thought.”

He has also condemned the display of the old South African flag during #BlackMonday protests against farm murders.

“That is representative of the terrible crime that was committed against our people … what the world called a crime against humanity. (It) should be condemned very strongly and I’m hoping that, that flag will never be flown in SA ever again and … this must be the last time we’ve seen that flag being hoisted.”

Ramaphosa threw back the ball to the MP’s court about the conduct of Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini regarding her non-appearance on committee meetings.

“It’s not so much what I will do. It’s much more what will Parliament do to exercise its own duties to make sure that the executive is accountable and we have a separation of powers embedded in our constitution so that we, the executive, are held accountable.”