SAA BRP and execs miss SCOPA meeting, again – Alf Lees

DA MP says practitioners continue to take hundreds of millions of rands for themselves but fail to do their jobs

SAA Business Rescue Practitioner and execs miss SCOPA meeting – again

16 March 2021

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is astounded that SiviweDongwana, one of South African Airways’ (SAA) two Business Rescue Practitioners (BRPs), has again managed to avoid accounting to Parliament for the airline’s business rescue debacle. Dongwana and SAA executives simply stayed away from a meeting with the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) today, on the basis that one of the BRPs, Les Matuson, had a bereavement in their family.

While it is absolutely understandable that Matuson was unable to attend due to the loss in his family, we are puzzled as to Dongwana and SAA executives absence.

There were two BRPs appointed for the SAA business rescue process, that has now taken some 16 months with absolutely no sign of a “rescue”,  and there is absolutely no reason why the BRP not affected by the bereavement could not have appeared before SCOPA.

Dongwana being AWOL from Parliament is especially irksome given that the BRPs and their associated businesses have taken fees that are likely to be in the region of R300 million and growing. Not only have they taken massive fees from the taxpayer without achieving the rescue of SAA, they are now proposing that one of them, Dongwana (once the Director-General of Public Works during the Zuma/Nkandla scandal) and his business associate, Bongani Nkasana, be appointed as the so-called “receivers” for SAA.

This is to seemingly continue with their self-enrichment through massive fees whilst they dish out the billions of rands in taxpayer bailouts that have amounted to some R32 billion over a two-year period.

The DA stands with the millions of South Africans who are now jobless and many on the verge of starvation as a result of the ANC irrational lockdown of the economy.

It is these South Africans who could be given lifesaving opportunities if the R10.5 billion and other bailouts yet to come, is used for stimulating economic opportunities rather than keeping SAA alive but totally unproductive. In the process of massive taxpayer bailouts for SAA the BRPs, who have repeatedly failed to account properly to Parliament, have taken and continue to take hundreds of millions of Rand in fees for themselves and their associated businesses.

The DA will demand answers to critical questions when Parvin Gordhan, the Minister of Public Enterprises and the SAA BRPs, finally appear before SCOPA in the next week. All South Africans are entitled to know:

What further taxpayer bailouts will be paid out in an attempt to get dead duck SAA operational;

When will the SAA taxpayer bailouts stop;

Are there actually any private equity partners interested in a share of SAA and if so what are the details of these partners, the size of the shareholding being offered to them and the partnership agreement under consideration;

What is the extent of fees already paid to BRPs, Dongwana, Matuson and their associated businesses;

Whether tenders/nominations for the appointment of SAA “Receivers” was called for or is it just another scheme of self-appointment and enrichment on the part of Dongwana and his business associate Nkasana;

Who is conducting the regulatory required pilot training for both SAA and Mango pilots given that the pilots qualified to do this training have been locked out by the BRP’s;

Under what circumstances will the lockout of SAA pilots be lifted; and

Given that SAA will not be a “new” company as repeatedly insinuated by Pravin Gordhan and that there are no plans to allow the logical liquidation of SAA, will the SAA staff who have refused the Voluntary Severance Package (VSP) ultimately be retrenched and thus be paid the full retrenchment benefits as determined by law and the employment contracts?

Issued byAlf Lees,DA Member of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, 16 March 2021