The appointment of former Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni as finance minister spells doom and gloom for the country’s working class.
These were the sentiments expressed by National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) President, Andrew Chirwa, on Thursday.
Chirwa said his union was disappointed by the decision made by President Cyril Ramaphosa to appoint Mboweni to the position of finance minister as the appointment would yet again result in the working class majority’s continued suffering under crippling poverty and unemployment.
The trade unionist said the union had celebrated when Mboweni’s tenure as Reserve Bank governor came to an end.
“This was because Mboweni was hostile to the working class majority. During his tenure as governor of the Reserve Bank, he bent over backwards to champion neo-liberal macro-economic policies, of the governing party, the ANC.
“These disastrous policies have entrenched and empowered a small minority of White Monopoly Capitalists in the economy. In the last two decades of ANC rule, the African working class majority continues to suffer crippling poverty and unemployment, just like they did under apartheid. They have not tasted genuine freedom and equality,” said Chirwa.
Numsa KwaZulu-Natal Regional Secretary, Mbuso Ngubane, concurred the sentiments uttered by Chirwa saying: “His appointment to this strategic portfolio represents the consolidation of the neo-liberal accumulation agenda and retention of the status quo.
“This should serve as a wake-up call to the working class and the poor, that the “New Dawn” is not about championing a revolutionary agenda that transfers the wealth of our country to the people as a whole…” said Ngubane.
The KwaZulu-Natal Regional Secretary added that Mboweni’s appointment - made in response to the scandal surrounding former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, who fell on his on sword after he revealed that he had lied about his interactions with the Gupta family – saw a sign that the ANC was lacking credible leaders and resorting to recycling the old guard.
“It is clear that the fast fading ANC is not only short of capable cadres to advance its revolutionary agenda, but it has ran outside of revolutionary ideas to act in the interests of the working class, rural poor, disenfranchised youth and marginalised urban poor.
“The Thuma Mina mantra is an ideological fog to send the working class into slumber, whilst White Monopoly Capital remains firmly in charge of the economy and policy formulation,” alleged Ngubane.
If Mboweni’s own sentiments expressed on his tweeter account on February 18 2018 are anything to go by, then perhaps Ngubane was on to something.
Mboweni tweeted that against the wisdom of his team he was not availing himself for the position of finance minister, emphasising that it was time for new blood and for the old guard to avail itself as mentors.
The Numsa officials accused Mboweni of actively promoting and maintaining high interest rates when he was Reserve Bank governor, which had a negative impact on the economy and resulted in massive job losses after hundreds of manufacturing companies closed down as a result of these policies.
“This crisis caused our members to march to his office in May 2009 to hand over a memorandum on these and other issues. He displayed extreme arrogance when he refused to accept the memorandum of demands from our members, who were picketing peacefully about the effects of the extreme social and economic difficulties that they were experiencing at that time,” said Chirwa.
The unionists also accused Mboweni of “displaying a wilful ignorance of the dire economic hardships faced by the working class majority” referring to Mboweni’s statement on 22 October 2009, when he made disturbing remarks about the impact of the 2008 global recession.
“We are experiencing a mild recession; it is not severe. If it was severe we wouldn`t have so many cars on the roads and people buying these large houses. Though spending patterns have come down ... [they did not fall to levels] of a severe recession,” Mboweni is quoted as saying.
Chirwa characterised Mboweni’s world-view as “consistent with the 1996 Class Project: co-option by White monopoly capital to weaken the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) and reverse the gains of the 1994 democratic breakthrough”.
The Numsa president cautioned working class South Africans to be vigilant of Mboweni saying his appointment to the position of finance minister could only mean more suffering is on the horizon for workers and their families.