Against such odds, could this be Mboweni’s ‘eunuch-in-a-harem’ ...

Ideas

Against such odds, could this be Mboweni’s ‘eunuch-in-a-harem’ moment?

The finance minister is a reformer, but is hemmed in on all sides, and most of all by his own team

Columnist

In parliament on Wednesday, finance minister Tito Mboweni will star in an update of “Mission Impossible”. This is his self-appointed task of “closing the mouth of the hippopotamus”. Or reducing the gap between government revenue and expenditure without choking off any prospect of economic growth.

It is not that Tito lacks a sincere and serious commitment to his cause. It is simply that he is in the equivalent position today in which the late minister of education, Kader Asmal, found himself more than two decades back.

He, like Mboweni, was a reformer. But when he tried his hand at improving the outcomes from his department, he admitted defeat at the hands of the powerful SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu), one of the most change-resistant institutions in the country. He ruefully observed something along these lines: “I feel like the eunuch in a harem; I might have the desire, but I lack the power to act.”..

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