The Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, has again evaded accounting to Parliament over the source of the R10.4 billion required by the South African Airways (SAA) Business Rescue Practitioners for the Business Rescue Plan that they have devised for the airline. This R10.4 billion is over and above the R16.4 billion already budgeted for in the 2020 budget.
Minister Gordhan and the SAA Business Rescue Practitioners, Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, were summoned to appear before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) today but at the eleventh hour, with a mere 24 hours to go, the Minister sent a letter to the SCOPA Chairperson to request yet another delay until the week beginning on 26 October 2020 that he claims will be after the funding required for the SAA business rescue plan has been secured. It appears that the SCOPA Chairperson has agreed to this delay.
The week of the 26th of October is the week immediately following the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement due to be made by the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, on 21 October 2020. What this means is that by the time Minister Gordhan and the SAA Business Rescue Practitioners finally appear before SCOPA, if indeed they do actually deign to appear and actually answer questions, the funding will no doubt have been included in the Adjustments Budget.
For the past five months, Minister Gordhan has obfuscated about the source of the of the R10.4 billion required to keep the defunct airline afloat. He has failed to answer questions in committee and simply ignored requests for detailed written replies to questions.
This obfuscation has clearly been an attempt by the Minister to evade accountability on the government’s morally bankrupt decision to hand out billions to a vanity project in the face of increasing joblessness and poverty across the country.