Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan is in the dog box for publicly warning that the government might sell off unprofitable parastatals.
Hogan said that there is no longer space for state-owned enterprises running at huge inefficiences.
Accusing the minister of "running ahead" of herself, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said there were no government plans to sell any of its assets.
****Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan appears to have done it again.
Her political masters believe she spoke out of school when she suggested placing a for sale sign over the door of underperforming public enterprises.
She has committed a political faux pas and will now probably have to go through the ritual cleansing that must follow, culminating in an apology or an explanation that she was quoted out of context.
But, just as when she spoke out in favour of the Dalai Lama visiting, she was speaking sense.
Take SAA, for example. It has lurched from one government bail-out to another, costing the public chest (read you and me) billions at a time.
It is clearly in need of some vigorous business discipline. It does not need the Treasury to feed its spending habit from the public purse.
The total — or even partial — sale of the corporation to introduce such discipline would benefit the taxpayer and the flying public.
The only conceivable reason for not selling off SAA is the atavistic belief that every country needs a national airline if it is to be taken seriously abroad.
The problem for SAA is that it competes against leaner, meaner international operations and it is starting to lose.
There are other public enterprises which could do with private inspiration. Transnet, which is building a new pipeline that none of the oil companies want, comes to mind.
The spending of billions of rands in what officialdom patronisingly believes to be the national interest, like it or not, is absurd in the current climate.
The credit fiasco has strengthened the hand of those who believe the state must intervene heavily it the economy. It is an unfortunate fad.