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Opposition parties gear up to take on Gordhan on SAA deal

Minister Pravin Gordhan speaking during an event hosted by the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Picture: Chris Collingridge

Minister Pravin Gordhan speaking during an event hosted by the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Picture: Chris Collingridge

Published May 22, 2022


Johannesburg - Pressure is mounting on Public enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to put the SAA, Takatso deal on hold, but the defiant minister is determined to sign it off despite legal threats against it.

The latest legal threat to block Takatso from purchasing 51% majority stake in SAA was made by the UDM’s deputy president Nqabayomzi Kwanka in parliament on Friday while Gordhan was delivering his budget.

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“On the SAA matter, we will meet in court,” Kwanka warned. UDM is expected to team up with the EFF who had already indicated that they had instructed their lawyers to challenge the sale in court.

Several other opposition parties, DA and Freedom Front Plus, came out strongly against the sale in parliament.

FF+ spokesperson on public enterprises, Wouter Wessels put the blame on the near collapse of the national airliner squarely on the door steps of the ANC.

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“When it comes to the SAA, the Minister speaks of openness. Then he must explain the situation surrounding the sale of 51% of the SAA to the Takatso Consortium for an amount that possibly only adds up to R51. Thus far, very little has been disclosed about this transaction.

“It seems that there is now even a perception among some people, like the EFF, that "white men" are responsible for the destruction of the national airline.

“The FF Plus wants to make it very clear that Dudu Myeni, former chairperson of the SAA, is certainly not a white man. To build South Africa back up, we need all the expertise we can get, regardless of skin colour or political ties,” Wessels said.

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Similar sentiments were expressed by the DA’s deputy spokesperson on public enterprises Farhat Essack.

Essack reiterated concerns raised by his fellow DA member Alf Lees that there was no clarity about the process that would have to be followed in order to deal with the SAA act, Ac 5 of 2007.

Lees said: “The Act was the vehicle under which SAA was created as an SOE and must be amended in order to enable the Takatso takeover of 51% of the shares in SAA.”

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In parliament, Essack said: “Save for SAA, whose deal with a so called strategic partner is still mired in controversy with an ever increasing possibility that the State may have to cough up more billions for the airline, almost all SOEs in South Africa are hanging by a thread and could go bankrupt at any time.

“Three years after committing to a disposal of non-performing assets within the SOE sector, Minister Gordhan has delivered nothing on that promise.

“These days, his favourite excuse for lack of action on under-performance in SOEs is to hide behind State capture. Even on that front, holding accountable those who have been implicated by the Zondo Commission has been abysmal.”

But Gorhdan was unfazed when he told parliament that SAA was on the threshold of concluding the acquisition of the strategic equity partner and concluding the transaction which would ensure the viability and survival of SAA, saying certain regulatory processes were now progressing.

“We reiterate that these processes have the approval of the cabinet and have all been consistent with legal requirements. There have been deliberate efforts to undermine the effort to restructure and reposition a state asset and introduce a majority private sector partner.

“We are particularly pleased that the company under an interim leadership at both board and executive management re-started flight operations in September 2021. The current routes include Cape Town, Durban, Lusaka, Harare, Accra, Lagos, Kinshasa and Mauritius,” Gordhan said.

He said the airline’s launching focus on African regional routes had been greeted with much admiration and pride across the African continent, saying as that the airline’s management awaits working with the SEP, the development of the second phase of the restart strategy was already under consideration, which was an expansion into additional regional routes and selected international cities.

“The airline will be developing a medium to long-term strategy which will no doubt grow its market share locally and globally. The priorities around SAA for the new fiscal year are: to ensure the successful conclusion of the SEP process; the injection of R3 billion of working capital by the SEP; and the consolidation of the state’s preference shares and its “golden share,” he said.