Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has appealed to the national government to “think carefully” about a possible bailout for South African Airways (SAA).
He said all the provinces desperately need everything they can get, to recover from the Covid-19 lockdown and job losses.
“Mr President, we don’t need state-funded planes, but we do need working trains in the Western Cape,” he said.
He said everybody pulled together, from business to government to private citizens, and also focused on a humanitarian response, which included the delivery of eight million meals to schoolchildren.
Now, the country is staring down budget cuts and a debt crisis as it moves to deal with the “second pandemic” of poverty, hunger and joblessness as a result of the lockdown.
“Speaker, we had the courage to get the job done,” he said, and urged that the country not slip back to its old ways.
“Despite public promises some made, Speaker, to me personally. Some of you will remember, a meeting at the [Cape Town International Convention Centre] – socially distanced official opening of this amazing Hospital of Hope that we built in six weeks.
“And in that meeting, I still remember the President looking me in the face and saying: ‘Don’t worry Premier, you do what you need to do, we will cover those funds’.
“And, unfortunately, today we still haven’t seen those funds.”
Winde said money continues to be pumped into “failing state enterprises” – like SAA”.
“The Western Cape government’s budgets over the medium term are likely to be cut by the same amount or more, which is now going to be funnelled into the black hole, which is SAA.
“Let me be crystal clear: Over R10 billion is going to be taken out of the mouths of the poor to pay for our failed state airline. Speaker, we don’t need SAA when there are so many airlines who can fly cheaper and better.
Winde added: “We don’t need chicken or beef being delivered in the skies to those who already have an income. But what we do need is good nutritious food delivered to our children, so that we can eradicate extreme hunger.”
He called on Mboweni and Ramaphosa to consider their course of action carefully and to “trim the fat” first.