The DA says it has great respect for and sympathy for workers at the South African Airways (SAA) who are now facing a bitterly uncertain future. Every possible effort must be made to negotiate a fair severance package for them.
The decision comes after the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, led a high-level meeting between government, trade union representatives and other workers’ representatives on Saturday to discuss the status of the business rescue process.
The department and trade unions agreed on a shared vision of a “national asset that is internationally competitive, viable, sustainable and profitable”.
“The leadership is well aware of the challenge, but is unequivocally committed to saving SAA,” the department said after the meeting.
Alf Lees, a DA member of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts, said on Sunday that it was time for the minister to withdraw from the process and allow the business rescue practitioners – Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana – to do their job.
“Over a five-month period, they have repeatedly delayed the launch of a business rescue plan and it looks like another R5.5 billion in tax money has gone with it,” Lees said.
“The money paid to the business rescuers and consultants amounts to an average of R60m per month, according to reports. We are still waiting for an answer to a parliamentary question to the minister about whether this information is correct. “
He says unless private investors knock on the door, the liquidation of SAA is inevitable. Delay by the business rescuers is only going to push the cost of the process further.
“Any effort that continues to waste money on a malfunctioning institution such as SAA is betrayal to all South Africans with high unemployment levels and a faltering economy.”
The DA says it is seeking a legal opinion on what steps can be taken to ensure that Matuson and Dongwana can be held responsible and forced to comply with relevant provisions of the Companies Act.