The ANC has confirmed it will do everything in its power to keep SAA as a state-owned entity, reports the City Press.
“We have not shifted from the position that we will do all in our power to retain the SAA as a state-owned enterprise,” said the ANC’s Ace Magashule.
“Even though [SAA] is under business rescue, the main shareholder is still government and government does have a say. This is why [Cyril Ramaphosa] has reiterated that SAA will be profitable and return to its former glory.”
ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile has reiterated this view, claiming that the government is ready to step in if the business rescue practitioners are believed to be making decisions that it doesn’t believe to be in the best interests of the national airline.
“Government remains the sole shareholder of SAA. If you run a company [of which] I am a shareholder, the day I don’t like what you do I will come in. It’s that simple,” said Mashatile.
“The business rescue practitioners do not own SAA, we do. The day they do something we think is not in line with what we want we will intervene because we appointed them.”
Magashule and Mashatile’s statements follow ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe saying that SAA should “make a profit or close”.
Magashule said that such contradictory statements would not take place in the future.
“We have also engaged as the national working committee and our position hasn’t changed.”
“Mantashe, who is part of the national executive committee, was also present and he has accepted the standing that the aim is to save and retain SAA as an SOE.”
“Sometimes you may say something and what you say may be taken out of context, and he [Mantashe] will address this and explain what he actually meant.”
This committee also agreed to crack down on a “culture of impunity and price inflation” that is present in those who do business with the government – particularly with SOEs.
Business rescue crisis
Since entering business rescue in December 2019, the practitioners for SAA have announced several initiatives to support a turnaround plan.
These include cutting flights and reducing the number of employees.
However, talks between practitioners and unions regarding job cuts have reportedly broken down into chaos, with certain labour representatives walking out of a meeting discussing these cuts.
The practitioners also reportedly asked unions for support regarding job cuts without providing details of which employees would be retrenched.
The unions refused to provide support for this initiative, and shortly after the start of a follow-up meeting, they learnt that the practitioners had released a statement announcing flight and job cuts anyway.
The workers’ committee said it had not been consulted about this beforehand, and reacted with anger.
Two of the biggest unions representing SAA employees – Numsa and Sacca – have since filed an urgent application to stop these job cuts.
Additionally, reports from this week state that SAA may sell its two night-time operating slots at London’s Heathrow Airport.
The airline is currently using only one of the two takeoff and landing slots, and could move London-Johannesburg flights to a cheaper daytime schedule, stated the report.