'What about health care and education?' — Government slammed for R10.5bn bailout for 'faulty kite' SAA

Finance minister Tito Mboweni during his medium-term budget speech in parliament, Cape Town, on October 28 2020.
Finance minister Tito Mboweni during his medium-term budget speech in parliament, Cape Town, on October 28 2020.

Some South Africans were not impressed by finance minister Tito Mboweni's medium-term budget speech which was tabled in parliament on Wednesday.

The main concern was the R10.5bn to pay for SA Airways to implement its business rescue plan. Mboweni told MPs that the Treasury reduced spending plans of government departments to raise funds for the airline.

This means that salary budgets for government employees in the departments of basic education, higher education and health, among others, will be reduced over the next three years.

R6.5bn was also allocated to SAA and will go towards settling the embattled airline's guaranteed debt and interest.

DA MP Geordin Hill-Lewis slammed the move, saying the minister was pressured to cough up the funds for SAA. He said the money could have been used towards building RDP houses, new clinics and schools among other things. He called the budget speech “a slap in the face to poor South Africans”.

Finance minister Tito Mboweni tabled his medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) on October 28 2020. Many called this particular one a 'balancing act' in light of SA's having to rebuild its economy due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Government spending and debt, SAA rescue plan and the State Capture Commission of Inquiry were just some of the topics covered in his address.

However, the minister did not take kindly to this criticism. He denied that he was under any pressure to bail out SAA and said the funds would prevent the liquidation of the airline.

“We had to scramble about and find the R10.5bn to support the business rescue practitioners' plan. There's no buckling under pressure here or any nonsense like that,” said Mboweni.

On Twitter, many said the government keeps prioritising its “faulty kite” at the expense of education, health care and other basic needs. These are some of the responses to the minister's speech:

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