More questions than answers with SAA sale, says Holomisa
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UDM leader Bantu Holomisa is questioning why the portfolio committee of public enterprises and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), which had been dealing with SAA’s business rescue, had seemingly been sidelined when the 51% sale of SAA to Takatso Consortium was discussed by the Department of Public Enterprises.
Holomisa announced that he will be challenging Minister Pravin Gordhan’s decision to appoint the consortium as the preferred bidder.
He has written to Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa to probe the validity of the proposed sale. Holomisa said the UDM cannot imagine a situation where government and Takatso have no detailed paperwork in place already and said if that’s the case, it would be “utterly reckless” on government’s part.
“The detail of the deal is still as opaque as it had been since the announcement, and it is critical that they must be established in the public interest.”
He added that there are more questions than answers on the deal: “An independent valuation report on SAA with all its subsidiaries and assets, including routes, aircraft, technical, aircraft spares, duty-free, apron services and properties, will show that 51% cannot just be handed over for nil consideration. As we understand it, SAA’s engineering division, on its own, might be worth at least R5 billion in assets and intellectual property. The question therefore is, how much is this 51% stake in SAA actually worth?”
Additional questions which Holomisa has included: “What informed the share value of this partnership? Has an assessment of the value of SAA and each subsidiary (e.g. Mango, AirChefs, SA Express, SAA City Centre and SAA Cargo) even been done and if so, what is that actual value?
“How is the deal structured in terms of SAA’s debt load? Presumably the fact that ’all historical liabilities will be the responsibility of Government’ means that Takatso will be free of this Albatross, but not the South African public?
“Minister Gordhan has said that Takatso was chosen after ‘a rigorous, year-long process undertaken by DPE to identify a suitable Strategic Equity Partner (SEP) for SAA’ , but did not indicate which other persons/companies/entities were made aware of this opportunity to buy a stake in SAA? Were there in fact any other bidders and if so, who? Was the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) followed in all respects, and also in which best strategic equity partner would be chosen?”
Holomisa said the salvage operation of SAA must be done with the oversight of the portfolio committee on public enterprises and Scopa.
“The DPE and Minister Gordhan must not be allowed to run roughshod over these committees and the critical role they play.”