The public enterprise portfolio committee on Wednesday resolved to report to National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula the refusal by Minister Pravin Gordhan to hand over key documents in the sale of SAA shares.
The decision was taken at a meeting where the MPs discussed and deliberated on evidence submitted by Gordhan and former director-general Kgathatso Tlhakudi into allegations of irregularities in the sale of SAA shares to strategic equity partner Takatso Consortium.
Mapisa-Nqakula referred to the committee last year Tlhakudi’s protected disclosure, alleging irregularities by Gordhan and a complaint by the EFF deputy leader that the allegations pointed to violation of the Constitution and oath of office by the minister.
At the centre of Tlhakudi’s protected disclosure was that the sale of SAA was orchestrated by Gordhan to benefit a few privileged individuals who were favoured irregularly.
Gordhan had dismissed matters raised by Tlhakudi as being intended to create an atmosphere that diverted from the reasons for his suspension and subsequent disciplinary hearing.
A draft report tabled at Wednesday’s meeting said Gordhan has on several occasions cited the confidentiality clauses that he entered into with other parties as a reason for not providing information.
The outstanding documents requested from Gordhan included the shortlist of companies from which final determination was made, service level agreement and evaluation report performed by Rand Merchant Bank and share sale and purchase agreement.
“The outstanding documents are critical in determining if there was no impropriety in the SAA transaction. Failure to secure these documents means that it will be difficult to determine whether the allegations made against the minister are with merit.”
Parliamentary legal adviser Andile Tetyana said the outstanding documents were central to the allegations.
“We find ourselves where we have one version. The inference could be made that this transaction is shrouded in secrecy,” Tetyana said.
He said one option available to the committee was to report Gordhan to Mapisa-Nqakula so that she could take the matter up with Deputy President Paul Mashatile.
He also said the committee could use its power to summon the documentation and that it does not give unqualified support to the SAA transaction.
ANC MP Jabulile Mkhwanazi said the outstanding documents were important for them to conclude their investigation.
“We must take the report as it is to the Speaker for the Speaker to institute summoning of the documents,” Mkhwanazi said.
DA MP Farhat Essack said he was in support of invoking subpoena powers for documents to be presented in a closed meeting.
EFF MP Omphile Maotwe said they should request Mapisa-Nqakula to appoint an ad hoc committee to probe the SAA transaction.
“We must all agree that let’s rather ask the Speaker and recommend she appoint an ad hoc committee to investigate the matter. Perhaps the public protector must also be involved to investigate the conduct of the minister and submit recommendations to the president,” Maotwe added.
In summing up the discussions, committee chairperson Khaya Magaxa said they had been dealing with a difficult and “bloodsucking process”.
Magaxa said what was in front of the committee was one word against the other. He noted the efforts they made to request for documents from Gordhan.
“This portfolio committee unanimously agrees it is unable to provide unqualified support to this particular transaction. What we still have at our hands are allegations. The minister has not helped us to take allegations out of our window,” he said.
“Let’s take the process forward by reporting to the Speaker where we are, that we can’t get assistance from the minister,” Magaxa said.
He also said the call for an ad hoc committee was important as it still had a role to play.