FILE PHOTO: Logo of SAA is seen on an aircraft at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg

CAPE TOWN - Parliament's public accounts committee (Scopa) on Saturday accused South African Airways (SAA) of not engaging in good faith with Parliament.

On Wednesday, November 13, the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) held a hearing into the failure of SAA to submit 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial statements and annual report to Parliament as per the prescripts of the law, committee chairman Mkhuleko Hlengwa said in a statement. 

"The committee views this non-compliance in a very serious light and with grave concern, hence it scheduled a hearing. The committee was not entirely satisfied with the reasons provided by SAA for their failure to submit the two sets of financial statements," he said.  

The committee then directed that SAA should submit the legal opinion and other documents which influenced their failure to submit the financial statements by no later than 12 noon last Wednesday, November 20. Despite further communication the committee made on November 21 and 22, reminding SAA to submit the documents, the committee had not received the documents, he said. 

"The committee requires the documents to prepare for the meeting it has scheduled for Wednesday, 27 November 2019 with SAA, the auditor general (AG), department of public enterprises, and National Treasury, which is aimed at developing a road map for the submission of the outstanding set of financial statements." 

The failure by SAA to submit this "simple information" placed the committee in a difficult position, as parliamentary legal services was unable to study the documents in order to assist and advise the committee to make informed decisions.

"The committee finds this total disregard of parliamentary processes by the SAA unacceptable, as the conduct of the SAA board and management undermine Parliament. Furthermore, the committee will not allow SAA to willy-nilly determine its own rules for accountability," Hlengwa said.

The committee was very clear to SAA that the process that was set into motion was without precedence, but was one which demonstrated Parliament’s commitment to finding lasting solutions to SAA's problems. 

Also, the committee frankly told SAA that should they fail to comply with this process, the committee would be compelled to develop its own road map which would have very serious implications for SAA. According to the committee, SAA was clearly not engaging in good faith with Parliament as they "keep shifting the goal posts".

"The committee will continue with the planned meeting of Wednesday, 27 November 2019 with or without SAA’s cooperation, as it cannot allow Parliament to play a second fiddle role to SAA’s self-regulation wherein the entity wants to define itself outside the law, and in the process undermines Parliament," Hlengwa said.

African News Agency