Gordhan's secrecy surrounding Brussels vaccine flight is impeding Parliament's constitutional oversight powers
7 May 2021
The Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan has failed to provide adequate replies to questions on the South African Airways (SAA) vaccine flight to Brussels in Belgium on the 24th of February 2021. The DA will henceforth be referring Minister Gordhan to the Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Deputy President David Mabuza, so that disciplinary action may be taken against him for impeding the exercise of Parliament's oversight powers.
Minister Gordhan has bluntly refused to provide details of the flight crew of the SAA vaccine flight to Brussels, attempting to justify his secrecy on the basis that there is apparently an “industrially charged environment at SAA” and that such a disclosure could pose a risk to the employees concerned. This is a very serious allegation that the Minister is making towards the striking pilots, implying that they might be capable of violent extra-judicial conduct toward the crew if the crew were to be publicly identified.
In addition to the blunt refusal to give information about the crew, Minister Gordhan has also simply ignored the questions regarding the aviation regulations and exemptions obtained from the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA).
Minister Gordhan needs to play open cards with the public, who have the right to demand that he uphold the constitutionally enshrined principles of public administration, most notably transparency.
Thus far, the Minister has blatantly refused to answer the question of whether government adhered to all the relevant provisions of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) when chartering the Brussels flight. His silence is becoming deafening and may be indicative of guilt.
The DA is confident that the Auditor-General will fully investigate the legal legitimacy of the Brussels flight when carrying out the audits of both the Department of Public Enterprises and the Department of Health and expose any likely wrongdoing on the part of Minister Gordhan and his cadres.
Issued by Alf Lees, DA Member of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, 7 May 2021