CAPE TOWN - Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana sang from the same hymn sheet when they clarified the role their departments played in the disposal of shares of SAA to a strategic equity partner.
Last month, Gordhan and outgoing National Treasury director-general Dondo Mogajane contradicted each other over the role of the latter’s department in the disposal of 51% shares in SAA to Takatso Consortium.
Mogajane had claimed that the National Treasury played no role in the selection process of the preferred strategic equity partner.
But, Gordhan had said there have been numerous meetings pertaining to the SAA transaction which the National Treasury was part of.
Asked if there were areas of wedge between the departments over the SAA transaction, Gordhan said there was no tension between the departments.
However, he said interaction between the National Treasury can be frosted with any department, including with the Department of Public Enterprises.
He said when a proposition was put forward, there would be lawyers involved and opinions would vary until there was clarity.
“The (finance) minister indicated that we came to a consensus that the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) does not apply in this instance,” Gordhan said about the disposal of the SAA shares, which he said were provided for in the Companies Act.
Earlier, Godongwana said the department applied to the National Treasury in terms of the PFMA, which after proper evaluation by lawyers, came to the conclusion that this legislation was not applicable.
“When the government disposes of its shares, it falls outside the ambit of section 54 application. We both agreed to that and they proceeded without section 54 application because it is not applicable in the circumstances,” he said.
Gordhan noted Godongwana had stated that National Treasury colleagues were not necessarily involved in every step of operational detail.
In the process of interactions in the course of questions being asked, there was adequate understanding of facts and ultimately alignment, he said.
“The entities are fully aligned and Cabinet decisions are implemented. All necessary work is being pursued in accordance with the mandate.
“There will be healthy exchanges and there will be healthy debates, two lawyers not agreeing in the first instance in a difficult, complex issue. Once there is sufficient room of clarity, you will get necessary alignment, which we have,” Gordhan said.
Godongwana stated that he agreed with Gordhan that the “boxing arrangement” by departments and the National Treasury did not mean infighting.
“It does mean an internal process fighting to preserve our space in terms of expenditure and money. Those questions are a matter of detail. It is in our nature to ask questions and people answer. It does not mean any contradiction,” he said.