'DA's move to stop SAA funding a waste of the court's time': Mboweni

20 July 2020 - 12:21 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Finance minister Tito Mboweni said the DA's application to stop him funding SAA's rescue might be a 'trivial/small issue' that would waste the court's time.
Finance minister Tito Mboweni said the DA's application to stop him funding SAA's rescue might be a 'trivial/small issue' that would waste the court's time.
Image: Esa Alexander

A Twitter spat between finance minister Tito Mboweni and the DA shadow minister of finance, Geordin Hill-Lewis, has escalated after the opposition party's urgent application to stop Mboweni from bailing out SA Airways (SAA) was made at the high court in Pretoria.

The DA announced at the weekend it had applied to interdict Mboweni from bailing out the national carrier by using "emergency funding" not budgeted for in “exceptional” and “unforeseen” circumstances.

The application was filed at the high court in Pretoria on Friday.

“Yet another public bailout of SAA does not meet the definition of an unforeseen emergency. To use this as a pretext to bail out SAA again would be unlawful,” Hill-Lewis said in a statement.

He said Mboweni had until 5pm on Sunday to file an answering affidavit.

Responding to Hill-Lewis on Twitter, Mboweni suggested the application might be a “trivial/small issue” that would waste the court's time.

Mboweni also said the bailout existed nowhere else but in Hill-Lewis' mind, and that he would have to provide evidence for the allegation.

Clapping back, Hill-Lewis said R10.1bn for another bailout was not a “small issue”, especially with the many job losses brought on by the lockdown.

Sunday Times reported that the department of public enterprises welcomed a commitment letter from the National Treasury that the government would support and source funding for a business rescue plan for SAA. The funding plan would result in a viable and sustainable national carrier that provided international, regional and domestic services.

The rescue plan is projected to require R10.1bn in funding.

“Billions for another bailout is not a 'small issue'. Especially not when millions are losing their work, businesses are closing, and the state can’t provide basic health care for Covid-19 patients. Why don’t we spend this money on alleviating their hardship?” said Hill-Lewis.

He also asked Mboweni to categorically state that no public money will be disbursed to rescue SAA.


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