The inevitable truth: Former DPE DG looks forward to revelations about SAA/Takatso deal

Department of Public Enterprises former director general Kgathatso Tlhakudi says he is excited that the truth is about come out on deal between South African Airways (SAA) and Takatso Consortium. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency (ANA)

Department of Public Enterprises former director general Kgathatso Tlhakudi says he is excited that the truth is about come out on deal between South African Airways (SAA) and Takatso Consortium. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 17, 2023


FORMER Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) director-general Kgathatso Tlhakudi is excited that the truth may be revealed regarding the deal between SA Airways (SAA) and Takatso Consortium.

On Wednesday, Parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises said it could subpoena Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to submit relevant documents regarding the sale of SAA.

Tlhakudi said it would show high levels of corruption and irregularities in the deal.

This follows Gordhan’s announcement that the partnership between SAA and Takatso had acquired a 51% stake in the government shareholding.

Tlhakudi in June told the committee that Takatso was not among the shortlisted bidders, and further said that the company did not have the financial and technical capacity, but Gordhan maintained that Takatso was the best deal.

Gordhan refused to provide the committee with the shortlist of bidders and the sale and purchase agreement signed by Takatso.

In a statement released on Thursday, the DPE refuted claims of non-cooperation.

The department said assertions that the proposed purchase of a 51% shareholding in SAA by Takatso was not conducted in a transparent and fair process were malicious and patently false.

The department said it had done everything according to the prescripts of the law.

“Any attempts to continue casting aspersions about the integrity of the transaction are meant to sidetrack the public from the hard work that has gone into saving SAA and reviving it into the financially sound and viable national carrier that we can all be proud of.

“There is no information that is within our legal remit to provide on the SAA transaction that the DPE has withheld from Parliament. All our engagements with the portfolio committee attest to our commitment to co-operate fully on every aspect of our work,” the DPE said.

When reached for comment Takatso said through it’s spokesperson, Thulasizwe Simelane, that there waas nothing new to tell and they had no intention of giving Thlakudi relevance he did not have by continuing to engage with his claims.

“In May this year, we responded to all these claims extensively, and with evidence of Mr Thlakudi’s lies (including correspondence written by Mr Thlakudi himself, when he was DG of DPE, meetings in which he participated, and processes he led as part of the process to identify the government's strategic equity partner in SAA). No one has reverted to us to say the evidence of the sequence of events that we showcased then was false,” Simelane said.

In a draft report that was presented, the committee said it had noted with concern that despite numerous requests to Gordhan to submit the relevant documents to the counter allegations made by Tlhakudi, he had not submitted some crucial documents as requested.

The committee raised concerns that the documents that Gordhan failed to submit were crucial for the committee to be able to test the veracity of the allegations.

The committee said Gordhan’s failure to submit the evidence had not assisted the process and had not provided the committee with any tangible evidence to persuade the committee not to believe some of Tlhakudi’s allegations.

“The lack of transparency on the SAA transaction, and the lack of documentary evidence, further cast aspersions and doubt on whether the SAA transaction was indeed above board,” the committee said.

The portfolio committee said it would subpoena Gordhan to force him to provide the documents.

Tlhakudi earlier this month wrote to Parliament’s Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and requested her intervention to ensure that the committee concluded its task on his protected disclosure complaint.

Tlhakudi, who was dismissed in May, said he supported the committee’s decision to subpoena Gordhan to submit the relevant documents. He said documents would also show that Gordhan broke laws.

Tlhakudi said: “The documents will show that Takatso was not shortlisted from the Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) process nor did they submit the bid, and the minister broke the laws of the country, namely the Constitution’s Section 127, the Public Finance Management Act and the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act.

“He committed the state to further enrich Takatso by transferring R900 million of public funds into escrow accounts controlled by Takatso for non-existent transaction risks on top of the fraudulent R7 billion to R15bn discount that Takatso received in the purchase price.”

Tlhakudi said the committee should ensure that it completed its work before the end of the sixth Parliament. Tlhakudi added that the Special Investigating Unit should expedite the request to President Cyril Ramaphosa for a proclamation to investigate the Takatso transaction.

“The rot that characterises this transaction should be revealed, including the lies that Minister Gordhan has been telling South Africans about State Capture 2, which is the central character as SAA, Denel, Transnet and Eskom misgovernance and poor performance under his stewardship,” Tlhakudi said.

The committee also resolved that it would report to the Speaker of Parliament on its unsuccessful attempts to exercise oversight of the deal.

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