Mango business rescue practitioner wants to force Gordhan to OK airline sale

The legal battle over the sale Mango Airline is back in court later this month. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)

The legal battle over the sale Mango Airline is back in court later this month. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Nov 19, 2023


THE business rescue practitioner (BRP) of Mango wants to enforce the North Gauteng, Pretoria, High Court ruling ordering Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to decide on the sale of the state-owned low-cost airline.

Sipho Sono has asked the court to order the enforcement of its September 2023 ruling directing Gordhan to make a decision on the sale of Mango.

Sono has already identified his preferred buyer, whose identity up to now has been kept under wraps.

According to the BRP, an application in terms of the Superior Courts Act has been filed, seeking an order that the operation and execution of the judgment and order granted by acting Judge Moses Phooko remain in full force and effect, and are not suspended pending the decision of any applications for leave to appeal and/or the appeal brought by Gordhan and Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana.

Sono added that he intended that his application, which deals with the suspension of court processes pending appeals, be heard together with the main application for leave to appeal on November 28.

Gordhan and Godongwana have applied for leave to appeal acting Judge Phooko's ruling forcing the public enterprises minister to make the decision on the sale of Mango as authorised by the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

Judge Phooko ordered Gordhan to make a decision on the sale within 30 days, communicate and furnish Sono, Mango’s parent company SAA, and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) with reasons for his decision.

In their application for leave to appeal, Gordhan and Godongwana state that Sono and Numsa failed to make out a case that the failure to decide on Mango’s sale was illegal, that they were not the SAA board, and that neither of them could usurp the board's statutory entitlement.

Gordhan stated: "The powers of the board of Mango devolve to the BRP. However, SAA (shareholder) retains its position regardless. The disposal of assets in Mango, in business rescue proceedings, must be decided with the concurrence of the shareholder and creditors.“

Sono indicated that he did not believe there was any merit in the arguments raised by Gordhan and Godongwana.

He added that the decision to appeal the judgment was strange because Gordhan was not ordered to approve the application but to make a decision on it, based on information he had in circumstances where it had been made clear that no further information could be provided to him.

Sono said if the minister believed his demands were rational, then he should be justified to decide the application in the negative and the matter would reach its logical conclusion.

Mango was placed under business rescue in 2021 and grounded. The airline owes creditors almost R3 billion.

Gordhan also argued that while the Companies Act prescribed the powers of the BRP, the general responsibilities of an accounting authority were prescribed in the PFMA, which required the assumption of the accounting authority’s responsibilities subject to National Treasury’s approval.