Gordhan cuts request for SOE to review SAA deal

Henry

The Department of Public Enterprises accused the corresponding portfolio committee of misleading the public by trying to insinuate that there was impropriety regarding the failed SAA deal.

The parliamentary portfolio committee on public enterprises has decided to request the Special Investigation Unit (SUE) to investigate the failed deal to sell a 51% stake in the South African Airways (SAA) to the Takatso consortium.

“The committee realizes the complexity of the case and the need for a thorough and credible investigation,” said committee chairman Khaya Magaxa.

Members of the committee said parliament must play an integral and meaningful role in government transactions of this magnitude. The committee was also of the opinion that parliament should be part of overseeing transactions in which government assets are sold to the private sector.

“The committee is further concerned about the undervaluation of SAL and the need for a comprehensive evaluation of the enterprise. It is essential to scrutinize the sequence of events that led to the undervaluation and to investigate any possible corruption or misconduct in the process.”

The department said, however, that it seems that Magaxa would rather accuse the department and Minister Pravin Gordhan of impropriety and find him guilty without any evidence.

“Magaxa essentially turned a legitimate oversight exercise into a kangaroo court where the department and its staff were defamed and vilified for the sake of politicking.”

The parliamentary legal adviser, Andile Tetyana, stated in his briefing to the committee last week that he found no sign of corruption in the proposed transaction.

According to the department, Gordhan wrote to Magaxa to reiterate that the Takatso consortium was not “hand-picked” by him, but that it was the result of a process led by Kgathatso Tlhakudi, former director-general of the department.

“The minister also informed Magaxa that he had received legal advice that although the transaction was terminated, documents relating to the transaction remain confidential and must be handled in camera, in accordance with the rules of the National Assembly.

“The department’s focus is currently to ensure that SAA continues on its recovery path now that there is certainty about its future in light of the decision to terminate the transaction.”

Gordhan announced earlier this month that the deal was off track after a new price for the interest in the SAA could not be agreed upon.