Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni. Photographer:Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

CAPE TOWN - The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on Friday accused Finance Minister Tito Mboweni of bucking African National Congress (ANC) policy by making "decidedly reactionary" statements abroad.

This comes after Mboweni told an investor conference in New York in his view South African Airways (SAA) should be shut down because it has not made a profit in seven years and had become a drain on public finances. 

"Why I say close it down is because it’s unlikely that you are going to find any private sector equity partner who will come join this asset,” Mboweni said, reiterating a sentiment he expressed in Cape Town last week.

But EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi accused the minister of waiting until he was overseas to have the "chicken audacity" to call for the carrier's closure, and said government should do all it could to save it.

"Whilst we appreciate the difficulties confronting the airline, we believe that there is a possibility to revive the airline, make it accessible to many South Africans. SAA, and its subsidiaries such as Mango should be positioned to be the most affordable and dependable form of public transport for all South Africans. With the levels of road accidents and carnage, a national airline should be a permanent safe solution to South Africa’s long-distance public transport crisis."

Mboweni had suggested that instead of pouring money into SAA, the government should focus on improving the train service as rail served the working class majority.

Ndlozi also tackled Mboweni, who served two terms as governor of the South African Reserve Bank, on the central bank's private shareholding.

"On the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb), Tito Mboweni arrogantly describes those who are rightfully calling for the nationalisation of the central bank as 'uninformed'. 

He added: "It is utter arrogance and rubbish for leaders, particularly ministers to label those who hold different views to them as “uninformed”, more so when those doing so are blinded by right wing ideological misinformation. It is a fact that globally, there are less than 10 Central Banks in the world with private shareholders. 

"In the current form, Sarb has private shareholders, and majority are white people. It is clear from the articulations of Tito Mboweni that the intention is to keep South Africa’s financial system and banks as a whole under the ownership and total control by the white minorities, who gained access to ownership and control through colonialism and apartheid."

African News Agency (ANA)