The South African Airways (SAA) is not daring to publish its financial statements for the past two years because it will then be liquidated, Public Works Minister Pravin Gordhan told parliament.
At a joint meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises, the department was briefed on the airline’s outstanding financial statements.
However, Melanchton Makobe, acting deputy director-general of public works, argued that there is a clause in the legislation that stipulates that a state institution’s results may be withheld if the minister can provide substantiated reasons.
He says Gordhan’s reasons are indeed valid; SAA is no longer operating as a going concern.
The SAA has received cash injections of more than R57 billion from the government since the 1990s. The airline has not made a profit since 2011 and has only lost more than R10bn in the last two years.
MPs were not available for the department’s explanation, after which Gordhan outlined what the exact consequences of liquidation would be.
In addition to the issue of SAA’s outstanding figures, the delegation, which included the airline’s two business rescuers, Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, was peppered with questions about the course of the business rescue process and the airline’s financial affairs.
Gordhan said the business rescuers could not provide answers while the rescue plan has not yet been submitted for approval, which is expected to happen on March 6.
Gordhan has acknowledged that the government has been on the road since the SAA was placed on business on December 6, 2019. “As far as I know, SAA is the first state institution in business rescue.”