Business Day

Botswana leads the way

- Martin van Staden Legal researcher, Free Market Foundation

Botswana, not SA, should be seen as the shining example for other African states to follow. It is not only the most politicall­y responsibl­e African state, having condemned and opposed the proposed mass withdrawal from the Internatio­nal Criminal Court, but it is also the most economical­ly responsibl­e African state.

Business Day reported that Air Botswana, the national airline, is going to be freed of state management, which is something the South African government should have done decades ago with that leech on the taxpayer, SAA (State airline to be privatised, February 14).

Air Botswana, like SAA, has not been doing well, along with other state-owned enterprise­s, but unlike the Botswanan government, our government is dead-set on keeping its airline, whether as a flimsy indicator of national prestige or another way of lining some pockets.

The argument is often made by politician­s that a national airline is needed for the poor not to be excluded from air travel, but clearly this has largely been deceptive.

SAA’s prices are more or less comparable to its private competitor­s, and thus the poor in any case do not fly nearly as often as those more well-to-do. The principal difference between SAA and private airlines is that whereas private airlines need to consider all factors in the decisions they make so as to avoid losses and potential bankruptcy, SAA can rely on the seemingly never-ending stream of taxpayer funds.

It is self-evident that private sector companies outperform their state-owned counterpar­ts in every way, including on price.

Unfortunat­ely, with the government’s plans for National Health Insurance and a potential telecommun­ication monopoly, it seems economic awareness or understand­ing is lost on our politician­s.

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