PIC not ruling out funding embattled SAA

17 October 2017 - 16:39 By Babalo Ndenze
An SAA Aircraft on the runway at the OR Tambo International Airport. File photo.
An SAA Aircraft on the runway at the OR Tambo International Airport. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images / The Times / Alon Skuy

The Public Investment Corporation (PIC) is not ruling out assisting the embattled South African Airways (SAA)‚ but the cash-strapped airline will have to meet its criteria.

PIC chief executive Dan Matjila told members of Parliament’s standing committee on finance that that door was not closed to SAA.

Matjila and PIC deputy chairperson Xolani Mkhwanazi faced questions from MPs on SAA and the PIC's involvement.

"We are not closing the door on SAA‚" was all Matjila said on the funding of SAA.

"The approach by SAA I think we will respond in writing. We don't have the facts as in who approached who and when‚" said Matjila.

He said they "were quite clear" that SAA would have to meet certain criteria before any funds were released. Matjila's comments came as the legal opinion on the use of Section 16 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba‚ to bail out SAA to the tune of R3-billion‚ stated that it was not lawful.

DA MP Alf Lees said the DA wrote to the chairperson of the standing committee on finance‚ Yunus Carrim‚ to request that a legal opinion on this be obtained from the parliamentary legal advisors.

"The legal opinion states that the expenditure was foreseeable and‚ indeed‚ foreseen as clearly stated in the Cabinet memo dated the 22nd of August 2017. It seems that the ANC and Gigaba will do all in their power‚ even apparently act illegally‚ to continue to throw money at the failing airline at the expense of the people of South Africa‚" said Lees.

Lees also asked Matjila and Mkhwanazi about certain approaches to PIC for funding by SAA.

"What are the details of those approaches? Who approached the PIC‚ on what date were they approached‚ how much money was being looked for? Just some details about that. Exactly who was it who approached the PIC‚ what was the basis of such an approach?" asked Lees.

DA MP David Maynier asked whether Mkhwanazi and Matjila were not concerned that the PIC was "vulnerable to state capture and possibly an attempt to capture the PIC was under way".

"If you are concerned‚ what are you doing about it? There's a public perception that the PIC board is an eager to please board and I would like your response to that question‚" said Maynier.

EFF MP Floyd Shivambu asked Mkhwanazi if he had any relationship with the Guptas.

"Have you worked with the Guptas before? Have you done business with them?" asked Shivambu.

Mkhwanazi said he applauded "public vigilance" on state capture in state entities.

"Like many citizens‚ I also look forward to that commission President Zuma promised so that we can finally put it to bed and get those responsible to account‚" said Mkhwanazi.