South Africa: Mboweni Claims Winter Is Over - but the Political Games Definitely Are Not

South Africa's Finance Minister Tito Mboweni delivers his medium-term budget policy statement on October 30, 2019.
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South Africa's debt is 'increasing at an unsustainable pace', said Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, but the tough decisions to arrest this have been kicked into touch. It's a sign the political contestation in the ANC is far from settled.

Much of Wednesday's medium-term budget policy statement (MTPBS) by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni seemed to be aimed at Cabinet colleagues to bring home how bare the cupboards really are. The numbers are shocking, and Mboweni didn't mince his words.

Economic growth for 2019 is revised down to 0.5%, just eight months after the February Budget anticipated 1.5% growth.

Tax collection falls short R52.5-billion, or 4%, of the estimated target, even if R1.37-trillion was collected in this dire economy marked by low wage settlement, fewer bonuses and higher unemployment that rose to 29.1% on the eve of the MTBPS.

Debt to gross domestic product (GDP) rises to 71.3% by the 2022/23 financial year and could reach 80.9% if South Africa remains on the same trajectory of spending more than its income.

National debt in 2019 exceeded R3-trillion, and it's expected to hit R4.5-trillion within the next three years. Meanwhile, debt service costs are the fastest rising expenditure item, increasing by R13.7-billion until...

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