The DA has officially asked the Public Protector Busi Mkhwebane to investigate Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba. Picture: Mike Hutchings/Reuters

Johannesburg - The DA has officially asked the Public Protector Busi Mkhwebane to investigate Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba for his decision to extend the contract of SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni.

The DA’s Alf Lees revealed this during media briefing on Thursday in which the party also vowed to guard against government employees pension funds being used to bail out the ailing national airliner.

SAA has a deadline until Saturday to pay back a loan of R6.9 billion, but DA leader Mmusi Maimane said his party was concerned where this enormous money would come from.

“Our national carrier has become a bottomless pit into which government continues to pour resources that should be spent on lifting 30 million South Africans out of poverty."

“It is hard to believe that any government hoping to be re-elected would take money from the poor to subsidise travel for the rich,” Maimane said.

Maimane and his party were of the view that the government should implement a business rescue for the SAA with the hope of stabilising and to sell it off later.

“The cumulative total of bailouts since 1994 is R14.4 billion, and National Treasury is currently trying to source another R10 billion for the airline in the next 48 hours."

“Government has already extended R19.1 billion in guarantees - meaning that nearly R35 billion of ordinary South Africans’ hard-earned money has been dedicated to keeping SAA in business,” Maimane said.

According to Maimane, SAA under Myeni had for the past five years suffered cumulative losses of more than R15.7 bn.

He said his party had an unwavering contention that Myeni was “both unfit and unsuitable to be at the helm”.

“The 10 billion that government is saying SAA needs will only pay off the bank loans of R6.9 billion due by the 30th of September, the Standard Chartered bail out of R2.2 billion at the end of June 2017, and R750 million to pay suppliers who were not fully paid in July and August 2017."

“The R10 billion will not provide working capital to fund the losses that National Treasury and the latest turnaround plan indicate will continue in the next two years."

“This requires a further R13 billion in cash injections or what National Treasury euphemistically refer to as “re-capitalisation”, Maimane said.

According to him, SAA is “bankrupt and insolvent”.

Maimane and Lees, who is serving in the parliamentary portfolio committee on finance, vowed that they would keep a watchdog on the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which looks after the government employees pension funds, to ensure none of it was used to bailout SAA.

Maimane said the PIC had already rejected the quest for it to bailout SAA, saying PIC CEO Dr Dan Matjila revealed their decision followed  a due diligence investigation which had been conducted on SAA.

He said the PIC’s  report found SAA was below the minimum investment standards required by them.

Maimane said his party would make a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to obtain a copy of the SAA due diligence report conducted by PIC.

The Star