SAA/Takatso: Molisane Memorandum is fabricated alleges former Public Enterprises DG

File photo of former Director General in the Department of Public Enterprises Kgathatso Tlhakudi. Picture: Dimpho Maja/Independent Newspapers

File photo of former Director General in the Department of Public Enterprises Kgathatso Tlhakudi. Picture: Dimpho Maja/Independent Newspapers

Published Mar 8, 2024


Former Director General (DG) in the Department of Public Enterprises Kgathatso Tlhakudi, who was instrumental in providing information to the Parliament Portfolio Committee of Public Enterprises on anomalies in the South African Airways (SAA)/Takatso Consortium deal said he doubts the authenticity of some of the documents.

Tlhakudi said he was unaware of the Molisane Memorandum cited by parliamentary legal adviser Andile Tetyana purported to have been signed by him in 2021.

Tetyana told Parliament it was a proposal made by Harith and Global, which later became the Takatso Consortium, to the DPE and was told it had satisfied the DPE’s requirements.

The Molisane Memorandum is in reference to a document referred to by Tetyana reported to have been drafted by Jacky Molisane, a deputy director-general in the department at the time, and signed off by Tlhakudi.

However, Tlhakudi said he had not known about this document until it came up at Wednesday’s Parliamentary briefing and only saw media reports on it.

“The Molisane Memorandum is fabricated and if they claim it is my signature on that document, then it is faked. I would love to see the documents myself to ascertain their authenticity. I am surprised and disappointed that nobody at Parliament did not contact me to confirm this beforehand,” Tlhakudi alleged.

Tlhakudi, who in recent times has appeared before Parliament and the Competition Tribunal to present evidence on the anomalies in the SAA/Takatso deal, said at the time the Molisane Memorandum was drafted, he was on sick leave and could not have signed it, wondering if his signature had not been appended electronically.

He expressed disappointment at not being formally updated on new developments regarding the documents by Parliament.

The Molisane memorandum “stated that an option that would need to be tested is for Global and Harith to combine as the two bidders can complement each other in the airline’s long-term strategy”, says Tetyana’s briefing note to the committee.

Thlakudi said though he was now aware of the fabrication, he felt hamstrung to do anything about it as the fight against his abrupt dismissal from the DPE had taken too much effort.

“Unless by some miracle someone at Parliament, or the courts, calls me up to give my evidence, I know the facts. Perhaps that is where I can prove that there is a lot wrong with the documents. If I am said to have signed one. I did not,” he said.

Commentators have been aghast at the DPE’s approach in dealing with Parliament on the matter.

“One of the pillars of procurement is transparency. It is completely unacceptable that the private sale of a public asset is not made public,” commercial lawyer Ben Cronin and advocate for tax and public money said on social media platform, X.

The Portfolio Committee, which only got hold of the documents through subpoena after an extended face-off with Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan, is set to deliberate next week on Tetyana’s advice and reach its determination on whether it will hold a partial or complete in-camera hearing with Gordhan.

In portions of the letter revealed on Wednesday to Khaya Magaxa, the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Gordhan stressed that disclosure of the documents affected the State’s privilege in conducting the transaction in the public interest.

He also claimed that the value contained in the Sale of Shares Agreement could be used by minorities to determine the amounts to be paid.

Gordhan said, “I wish to remind you that the purpose of providing the documents was solely to enable the parliamentary legal advisor to provide legal advice to the committee.

“The Competition Tribunal approved the transaction with conditions which include that the minorities must divest,” Gordhan said, insisting on the confidentiality regime that specified legal action against Parliament and the state if breached.

He said said confidentiality would protect the SAA from competitors who did not want the SAA to succeed as certain documents contained commercially confidential information, which could enable competitors to unfairly compete against SAA.

“The Competitors are not obliged to disclose similar information that SAA is expected to disclose,” he said.

"The department has contacted the other parties to seek their consent to disclose the documents. Only Takatso Consortium responded and indicated that the Sale of Shares Agreement can be shared subject to an appropriate confidentiality regime (letter attached hereto),“ the letter read.