One would be hard-pressed to find two South African Cabinet ministers who love engaging on Twitter more than Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni and Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula.
On Friday morning, Mbalula took to the social media site to inform his Cabinet colleague that he agreed with the minister's call MPs to fly economy class.
Mboweni, who has posted images of himself flying economy, told a joint meeting of three Parliamentary committees on Thursday afternoon that ministers and MPs should follow his example in containing costs, if only to demonstrate to taxpayers that government was committed to spending revenues more responsibly
His briefing to MPs came after he tabled the 2020 Budget in Parliament on Wednesday, where he announced plans of major cuts to the public service wage bill over three years in an effort to reduce SA's deficit. Treasury has proposed cuts of to R37.8 billion in 2020/21, R54.9 billion in 2021/22 and R67.5 billion in 2022/23. The announcement angered unions, with Cosatu President Zingiswa Losi telling reporters Mboweni's sudden announcement undermined the collective bargaining process.
Mboweni initially announced the new rule of flying economy class in his mid-term budget in October 2019. Minister for Public Service and Administration, Senzo Mchunu, made it official in December last year. Cabinet ministers and their spouses travelling by air must travel in economy class for all official domestic travel, as well as for international travel where the travel time is less than two hours
In the tweet, Mbalula shared an image of himself on a South African Airways flight.
MPs agreed with Mboweni's call during his meeting with the joint committee on Thursday, but stressed that government should improve SAA's operations such that it provides a cost advantage to travelers.
SAA, which was placed under business rescue in December, earlier in February announced the cancellation of all its domestic routes apart from the popular Cape Town - Johannesburg flight in an effort to save costs.
The airline tweeted its thanks to Mbalula on Friday.
- Additional reporting by Jan Cronje