Saftu wants Pravin to step down for muzzling parliament over SAA deal

Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/Files

Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/Files

Published Mar 4, 2024


The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) has intensified calls for Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan to resign over the sale of SAA to Takatso Consortium.

This comes after Gordhan addressed a closed door parliamentary meeting on the SAA deal with the consortium last week.

Gordhan is said to have refused to hand over the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) document from Takatso submitted as part of the acquisition process

SAFTU secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi accused Gordhan of hiding corruption.

According to media reports, correspondence between Gordhan and Khayalethu Magaxa, the chairperson of the parliamentary committee of public enterprises, through the Speaker of Parliament, indicate that Gordhan tried to force the committee into signing an NDA before accessing the documents.

Last week, Independent Media reported that the documents at the centre of the controversy which Gordhan subsequently submitted indirectly to the committee, include: the Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) appointment documents, RMB evaluation report (shortlist of parties), the Harith expression of interest, sale of shares agreement and addenda, the internal memo-evaluation process for the DPE as well as the draft of the NDA the minister intended for parliamentarians to sign.

“There is a lot that he is hiding. Our suspicion is that he is hiding corruption. We all know that one of the biggest battles we are facing is the people who have thrown the principles of leadership into the wild sea. We think that the real reason why suddenly there is a closed door meeting where even the media and members of the public are not allowed is because this deal is not clean,” Vavi said.

However, the minister has rejected reports that he tried to force parliament to not disclose information related to the SAA deal, saying that the reports were aimed at creating confusion.

“The Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) has expressed indignation over the disturbing attempts to confuse the public and spread distortions about the rules that regulate how the DPE engages with Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises. On Wednesday, 28 February 2024, the DPE met with the Committee over its requests for information on the proposed strategic equity partnership (SEP) transaction for South African Airways (SAA).

“Prior to this meeting, the DPE had made a request to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee to assist the process by allowing for the meeting with the Committee to be held in camera. The DPE’s request was consistent with the rules of Parliament, specifically rule 184, which allows for closed meetings under certain circumstances,” the minister said.

Vavi said the deal had not been transparent and Gordhan’s behaviour added to the suspicions.

“It is clear that Takatso Consortium may have not paid its side of the bargain and it is only the state money that is on the table. The question that arises is why did we have a partial privatisation of a critical state institution if the consortium is unable in a transparent manner to put money on the table so that we know what is best for SAA.

“Saftu condemns in the strongest terms, the fact that the minister, after so long has failed to honour the invitations of parliament to come and present the details of the deal. When he eventually comes to parliament, he demands to do so in private which is in opposition to the spirit of the constitution,” Vavi added.

The Star