Gauteng High court denies Gordhan leave to appeal on the finalisation of the sale of Mango Airways

The sale of Mango is up in the air. File

The sale of Mango is up in the air. File

Published Dec 16, 2023


The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said in a statement on Friday that it welcomed the North Gauteng High court denying Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan leave to appeal on the finalisation of the sale of Mango Airways.

The Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) applied for leave to appeal against a previous judgement, which ordered the minister to make a decision regarding whether the DPE supported the sale of Mango.

The judgement, which was handed down on the 6th of September, gave Gordhan 30 days to confirm whether the sale could go through or not.

If the sale goes through, Mango will be wholly owned by a private equity partner, and will no longer be owned by SAA and the DPE will cease to be the shareholder.

“But instead of implementing the order, Gordhan wasted tax payer money launching an application for leave to appeal. His application was dismissed with costs,” the union said.

The appeal was brought by Gordhan and Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, IOL reports.

In their application for leave to appeal, Gordhan and Godongwana stated that business rescue practitioner (BRP) Sipho Sono and Numsa failed to make out a case that the failure to decide on Mango’s sale was illegal, that they were not the SAA board, and that neither of them could usurp the board's statutory entitlement.

Gordhan stated: "The powers of the board of Mango devolve to the BRP. However, SAA (shareholder) retains its position regardless. The disposal of assets in Mango, in business rescue proceedings, must be decided with the concurrence of the shareholder and creditors.“

Sono has already identified his preferred buyer, whose identity up to now has been kept under wraps, IOL reported.

Numsa said it was involved in this matter because it had members at Mango.

“Even though they have been retrenched, we negotiated with the Business Rescue Practitioner that workers at Mango would get preferential re-employment, when the airline takes off. This case is a victory for the union because it protects the interests of our members and protects the future of the airline. Gordhan does not care that workers, the airline and the preferred bidder are in an indefinite limbo because of his reckless decisions. He is acting irrationally and he has no logical explanation for his behaviour,” it said in the statement.

Numsa in the statement provided the background to how the matter ended up in court.

It said Mango Airlines had been grounded since July 2021 to date. An amended business plan was published by Sono on November, 25, 2021. The revised business rescue plan was adopted on the on the 2nd of December by creditors with the supporting vote of more than 75% including SAA in terms of sections 152(2) and (4) of the Companies Act. SAA and DPE demanded that in the amended plan Mango must not be part of the SAA group.

“They demanded that a private equity partner must be found and the BRP found the equity partner, but the DPE is refusing to make a decision to finalize the deal. It is DPE and SAA that insisted that Mango must be sold and they placed a condition that in order to release the R800 million needed to fund business rescue, the plan must be amended, and an equity partner must be found. Those conditions were met,” it said.

Numsa took Gordhan to task over good governance and how state-owned enterprises has faired under his watch.

“He has single handedly destroyed thousands of jobs. SA Express, SAA, Eskom, Transnet and Denel have all collapsed or are collapsing under his watch. He has a deadly ‘Midas touch’. The only exception is that, unlike the fictional King Midas, whose touch, turned everything to gold, everything Pravin touches, dies an unnatural death. There is not a single entity under his portfolio which is doing well. He is managing the most strategic portfolio which is directly tasked with growing the economy, but his failures are destroying the economy,” it added.

Numsa said it was clear from the latest court outcome that he was likely to lose at the Supreme Court of Appeal and this was a waste of tax payer money.

It asked that the minister simply approve the sale of Mango.

Earlier this week IOL reported that the DPE denied claims by a Parliamentary committee that it was refusing to cooperate with it and hand over documents on the sale of SAA to Takatso Consortium.

The DPE said on Thursday the sale of SAA was done in a fair and transparent manner.

“The Department of Public Enterprises has reiterated the important role of Parliament to conduct oversight and demand accountability, but it refutes claims of non-cooperation with the portfolio committee on public enterprises in its examination of the Strategic Equity Partnership (SEP) transaction for South African Airways (SAA),” said the department.