Withdrawal of SAA Bill part of Gordhan’s cover up on SAA/Takatso deal

Minister Pravin Gordhan. File image.

Minister Pravin Gordhan. File image.

Published Feb 17, 2024


By Farhat Essack

The withdrawal of the South African Airways Repeal Bill (the Bill) from the Parliament Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises by Minister Pravin Gordhan is yet another confirmation of his wider plan to cover up the details of the Share Sale and Purchase Agreement between SAA and its newly found equity partner Takatso.

Even as he conveniently hid behind time constraints in the current Parliament as reason for withdrawing the Bill, the real motivation for the withdrawal is that he did not want committee members asking for copies of the SAA/Takatso Share Sale and Purchase Agreement. He knew processing of the Bill was not going to proceed until this critical documentation was tabled in committee.

In a press statement issued after by the Committee on Wednesday, the Committee Chairperson – Khaya Magaxa, indicated that the Bill ‘had been withdrawn due to concerns that it will not be finalised on time’. This outcome was predictable because Gordhan tabled the Bill late and fully aware that the term of the current Parliament is about to expire.

The DA is the only party that has been fighting hard to obtain copies of the Share Sale and Purchase Agreement since the SAA/Takatso deal was announced in June 2021. Gordhan flatly ignored a PAIA application that we submitted in March 2022 and subsequent appeals that we submitted. Every time that the DA has cornered him in committee over the release of these critical documents, he has conveniently cited confidentiality concerns embedded in the deal.

What Gordhan fails to realise is that SAA is still a Schedule 2 public company under the Public Finance Management Act whose clear objective is ‘to secure transparency, accountability, and sound management of the revenue, expenditure, assets and liabilities of the institutions to which the Act applies’. In addition, the Companies Act of 2013 – under which SAA’s share capital is regulated, has clear disclosure requirements for corporate ownership transparency. As such, by refusing to disclose the SAA/Takatso Share Sale and Purchase Agreement, Gordhan is violating the provisions of the PFMA and the Companies with regards to legislated disclosure requirements.

For as long as Gordhan refuses to divulge the details of the sale agreement, the SAA/Takatso deal may be potentially and materially be non-compliant with law. Parliament will not agree to be coopted into Gordhan’s nefarious attempts to sanitize a deal whose details they are not privy to.

Farhat Essack MP - DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises.