DA wants Mboweni to probe how SA Express used R1.2bn in bailouts
Johannesburg – South Africa's main opposition Democratic Alliance party on Wednesday said it wanted Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to probe how state-owned airline SA Express used R1.2 billion it was given in government bailouts.
The DA said SA Express, which was placed under provisional liquidation last month, had not reported on key compliance requirements for taxpayer-funded bailouts over the last year as well as an additional R164 million allocated in the medium term. The party cited a report provided to Parliament’s appropriations committee this week.
It said as a condition of its bailout, SA Express was required to report to the finance minister, the auditor-general and Parliament on the utilisation of the R1.2 billion allocated to the airline during the 2018/19 financial year.
"The status of how this money was used remains unclear," said the DA, adding that it was also not clear whether the additional R164 million had already been paid out to SA Express before it was placed under liquidation.
"The DA will be tabling questions to Finance Minister Tito Mboweni regarding how bailouts were paid without ensuring conditions were met, and further will be writing to the minister to request an investigation into this non-compliance and who was responsible."
It said SA Express’s provisional liquidation status should not deter the government from holding individuals entrusted with taxpayers' money to account.
In January, SA Express said it had been battling for months to get money owed it by national carrier South African Airways, which was itself placed under business rescue in December due to acute financial woes dating back several years.
SA Express has always been operationally independent of SAA but incorporated its flights within a strategic alliance with the national carrier, which also acted as its collection agent.
Both airlines' troubles have been exacerbated in recent months by the Covid-19 global pandemic with has virtually grounded airline travel around the world, with many countries closing their borders.
African News Agency (ANA)