File image: IOL
A row has erupted in Parliament over the leaked document on the recapitalisation of SAA to the tune of R10 billion after ministers clashed with opposition parties.

ANC ministers this week defended the decision to rescue SAA, saying they would not allow it to go under.

They accused the opposition of stealing the document.

Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa and Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti accused the DA of being desperate to score political points.

They insisted SAA would not be sold, and the government would ensure it continued to operate.

Xasa told the DA to allow the government to work with state-owned entities, and it would report back when it was time to do so.

Nkwinti also lashed out at the official opposition saying it obtained the memorandum unlawfully. He said this showed how desperate the official opposition can be to get hold of such a document.

Nkwinti said when they discussed the document in cabinet there was no decision to take a cent from Telkom. He said Telkom contributed no less than R500 million to the fiscus.

Deputy Minister of Finance Sifiso Buthelezi even told the Standing Committee on Public Accounts that it would not allow SAA to go under, Nkwinti said.

SAA has been a subject of intense discussion in Parliament and outside over its financial crisis.

Matters came to a head when DA member Alf Lees presented the document in Parliament where he said it was discussed in cabinet this week.

The document proposed the recapitalisation of SAA by R10bn through the sale of the government’s stake in Telkom.

But Scopa chairman Themba Godi warned against this, saying Telkom was an important state asset that cannot be sold.

“We accept that government can sell Telkom shares. We lost Vodacom shares. What that means is that the stake in the state economy shrinks. Telkom is a strategic business that you cannot allow to be in completely private hands,” said Godi.

Godi also said after the government disposed of its assets in Vodacom it was a blow to the state.

The government sold its stake in Vodacom in 2015 for R23bn to fund Eskom. And in addition converted its Eskom loan of R60bn to equity. This was aimed at strengthening the balance sheet of Eskom.

Weekend Argus