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Numsa seeks legal advice over ‘collapsing’ SOEs

Numsa general-secretary Irvin Jim. Picture: Sapa

Numsa general-secretary Irvin Jim. Picture: Sapa

Published Jun 14, 2021


Pretoria - The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) is consulting its attorneys about possibly interdicting “processes to collapse state-owned enterprises (SOEs)” like the troubled SA Airways.

This comes after the recent announcement by the Department of Public Enterprise that the national airline will have an equity partner with 51% control.

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General-secretary Irvin Jim said the airline collapsed under the watch of government as the shareholder, and “the Department of Public Enterprise conveniently closed its eyes to bloated evergreen contracts”, which choked the airline to the point where it had to be placed under a lengthy, costly business rescue process.

He said, at the same time, they restructured SAA and retrenched 3 500 workers. “For almost a year they refused to pay workers at SAA and its subsidiaries their salaries and delayed in paying voluntary severance packages so that workers suffered during the pandemic. The business rescue practitioners were paid in excess of R200 million, but workers got nothing. The department did not lift a finger to help them through their suffering, even now, at the subsidiaries, there is a crisis because workers have not been paid, but the department is silent.

“The same DPE, which refused to act to stop the looting of SAA through the bloated corrupt procurement spend, has now privatised it. Government will now only own a 49% stake at SAA, while Takatso Consortium, which is a partnership made up of Harith General Partners and Global Airways, have been selected as strategic equity partners.

“Global Airways is owned by Popo Molefe, the former Transnet board chairperson, and Jonathan Rosenzweig. Jabu Moleketi who was the former deputy minister of finance between 2004 and 2008 under former president Thabo Mbeki, is also chairperson of the Harith board.”

He said it was important to point out that as things stand, no money has changed hands, only a vague commitment has been made by the consortium to capitalise SAA with R3 billion over 12 to 36 months.

“Instead of intervening in the corrupt procurement expenditure, the management of state-owned enterprises is restructuring and reducing workers’ wages and benefits, so that the ANC government can continue these corrupt arrangements. This is what is happening at all SOEs, including Eskom.”

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Jim said the president was attempting to delude the nation about its economic recovery when he says: “We are witnessing, as I predicted in the State of the Nation Address only a few months ago, the rebirth of our resilient Protea.” He said people had to ask themselves whether they were living in the same country. Stats SA recently announced that unemployment had reached a new high and was now at 32.6%, the highest since the start of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey in 2008. The expanded definition of unemployment which measures those who have given up looking for work is now at a shocking 42.3%.

Numsa said in the past 27 years of ANC rule, South Africa had become the most unequal society in the world, with poverty levels rocketing and “the very same ANC government is contributing directly to unemployment.

Spokesperson for the Department of Public Enterprise Richard Mantu said the department made an announcement and would not comment further on the matter, as they will be going on to do due diligence.

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Pretoria News