It is all a fudge and bumbling at SAA as the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, and the SAA business rescue practitioners (BRPs) clearly misled South Africa about funding for a SAA bailout. That is surely why Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, the BRPs, have refused to make the letter from National Treasury public.
The sorry SAA saga is unfolding much as the Democratic Alliance (DA) predicted yesterday. We believe that the Minister and the SAA BRPs are being obtuse and are misleading South Africans that government has agreed to a R10.4 billion State funded bailout for SAA.
Our information is that the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, and National Treasury have not agreed to provide a State funded bailout for SAA and that there will be no funding provided to SAA in the near future, and seemingly certainly not by next week. Minister Gordhan is seemingly putting pressure on President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Cabinet to instruct Minister Mboweni to make a taxpayer bailout to SAA – if not immediately then in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) adjustments budget in October 2020. It is our understanding that National Treasury is refusing to budge and that the BRPs were disingenuous in implying to creditors that the letter from National Treasury had made a “commitment” to provide the funding imminently.
If the BRPs and Gordhan dispute this view, I dare them to produce the letter that was sent by National Treasury this morning so that all South Africans, and SAA employees in particular, can assess what the real picture of bailout funding for the airline really is.
It now seems clear that the BRPs have agreed to partner with Gordhan in holding the country to ransom to force yet another taxpayer bailout in order to save the dead duck that is SAA.
Consultations for the MTBPS are already underway and Gordhan and the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) are no doubt trying to pressure National Treasury to ensure that the R10.4 billion bailout is included in the MTBPS adjustments budget. The DA will oppose any further bailouts for SAA and remain vigilant in protecting taxpayer’s money from being used to fund SAA.