The United Democratic Movement (UDM) has noted the out-of-left-field announcement, by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, that Takatso Consortium will buy a 51% stake in long-ailing South African Airways (SAA) and that it has undertaken to inject R3 billion into reviving the national carrier.
The entire situation has raised serious questions, one among which is that Harith General Partners is a partner in this consortium, and that the Commission of inquiry into allegations of impropriety regarding the Public Investment Corporation (the Mpati Commission) had painted Harith in a clearly unfavourable light, when it said that:
“Harith’s conduct was driven by financial reward to its employees and management, and not by returns to the GEPF. In essence, the PIC initiative, created in keeping with government vision and PIC funding was ‘privatised’ such that those PIC employees and office bearers originally appointed to establish the various Funds and companies reaped rich rewards.”
How is it therefore possible for government to deal with an entity with such a stain on its record and this whilst the Mpati Commission’s recommendation’s have not yet been fully executed. The Public Investment Corporation’s (PIC) board must, as a matter of urgency, take the nation into its confidence as to how far it has come in implementing those recommendations and also make a statement on its continued business relationship with Harith General Partners in light of the Mpati Commission’s views and findings.
At last glance, the Portfolio Committee of Public Enterprises and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) had been dealing with SAA’s business rescue and now we hear that a majority stake has been sold, without any details of whom Takatso Consortium’s competitors were, how the deal was structured, nor how it was financed.
How much is this 51% stake in SAA worth? How can a R3 billion injection now suddenly be enough to save SAA from certain death, whilst government has been pumping billions and billions of rands into this entity for years? Something is stinking to high heaven with this whole situation.
We have absolutely no information, but given the players, we can speculate. What if PIC-funds (in other words government without any details of whom Takatso Consortium’s competitors were, how the deal was structured, nor how it was financed.
How much is this 51% stake in SAA worth? How can a R3 billion injection now suddenly be enough to save SAA from certain death, whilst government has been pumping billions and billions of rands into this entity for years? pensioners’ monies) were leveraged to finance a potentially fatally risky deal with government. It would be very wrong and illegal and, ironically, government would in the end be bailing out SAA yet again!
Takatso Consortium in its statement today said that “A due diligence exercise will now get under way. Once completed, further details will be outlined on key issues such as the route network rollout, fleet selection, leadership team, transformation, brand relaunch, technology, SAA’s subsidiaries, global partnerships and Voyager.”
How can Minister Gordhan go ahead with such critical matters hanging? SAA staff must be more frightened for their futures than ever, and this after months of threats to their jobs and staff cuts.
The UDM is also strongly of the view that those who had looted SAA with impunity during state capture must be brought to book and the money recouped. This must never be forgotten.
National Treasury, Minister Gordhan and all the departments involved in this deal have a lot of explaining to do. It seems that Parliament’s oversight role has been undermined, and there are more questions than answers about this deal. It simply cannot be honoured until the Portfolio Committee of Public Enterprises and Scopa have looked at the details.
Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP
President of the United Democratic Movement