A South African Airways (SAA) aircraft is seen parked on the tarmac at Cape Town International Airport in Cape Town, South Africa, November 14, 2019. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

Instead of keeping his promise not to bail out South African Airways, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni got R10.5 billion from police and education, among other departments, in effect throwing South Africans “under the plane,” says Democratic Alliance Shadow Finance Finance Minister Geordin Hill-Lewis.

“The ANC government has chosen to cut essential services to the public – like education and policing – to fund another bailout of South African Airway. This is an indefensible, immoral choice. It amounts to throwing South Africans ‘under the plane’ to pay for SAA,” he said.

The latest bailout to SAA is funded by (among others) cutting the policing budget by R1.2 billion; the education budget by R1.4 billion; the budget for the courts and the prosecuting authority by R1.2 billion; and conditional grants to provinces and local governments, for things like new schools and health services, by R12 billion.

“This is the immoral choice the ANC is making. They are choosing SAA over fighting crime. SAA over education. SAA over South Africa.

According to Mboweni’s Medium Term Budget Policy Statement today, debt will not stabilise by 2023 but will continue to balloon to a massive 95 percent of GDP and will now only stabilise in 2025/26, with an extra R1 trillion in additional debt, Hill-Lewis said.

“South Africans will continue to pay for a zombie state company, and will continue to suffer the consequences of ever-higher debt.” The latest bailout will be added to R16.4 billion allocated in the February main budget.

The DA said that the R10.5 billion could have paid for: One month of additional TERS support for families who have lost income during lockdown; 440 new community clinics; 66,500 new RDP houses; 130 new schools; and 80 000 new teaching degrees, or 27 000 new medical graduates.

“We will continue to mobilise against this bailout, and call on the public to take part in the budget process to make their voice heard in opposition to this,” he said.