DA proposes special public hearings on SAA bailout

Please find an attached soundbite by Geordin Hill-Lewis MP

It is morally indefensible to bail out South African Airways (SAA) again by cutting funding from pro-poor Covid relief spending programmes. Parliament should reject any such proposal from Minister Tito Mboweni. The Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance, Joe Maswanganyi, calling for dedicated public hearings on the SAA bailout. Every Member of Parliament, particularly every ANC MP, should understand clearly that support for this bailout will mean actively choosing to cut funding from services to the poor, and from Covid relief programmes. 

At these hearings the Committee can interrogate the reported proposal to fund the bailout by cutting public employment programmes planned as part of the Covid relief package. Also, public servants like teachers and nurses can detail the extreme resource shortages that they work under every day. This will make the choices clearer. 

The Standing Committee holds public hearings on the whole budget, but these do not allow time for detailed examination of specific spending proposals. That is why we need dedicated public hearings on the SAA bailout. 

Government is ignoring the impact that deep budget cuts announced in the supplementary budget have had on service delivery and will now raid R19,5 billion set aside to create public works jobs for millions of unemployed South Africans.

This is morally indefensible and the DA calls on all parties represented in SCOF to speak in one voice and reject this plan. More than 3 million South Africans have lost their jobs as a result of Covid-19 and Parliament cannot stand by while the government pushes them further into poverty.

R57 billion has been spent bailing out SAA since 1994 and for the government to ask taxpayers to shoulder the burden of another bailout is unacceptable.

Parliament should ensure that the government’s Covid relief package is spent on helping families whose livelihoods have been destroyed by the lockdown. Parliament should not allow these funds to be diverted to SAA.