No sight of final SAA rescue plan as June 15 deadline passes


There has been no sight of the SAA business rescue practitioners’ final plan for the ailing state-owned airline, despite the deadline passing on Monday.

The DA is calling for the practitioners, Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, to immediately release their final plan.

Creditors had given Matuson and Dongwana until June 15 to submit the final plan, after granting yet another extension on the basis of a request by two of the biggest trade unions at the company, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca).

The plan was expected to be filed later on Tuesday.

The DA’s Alf Lees, an MP and member of the standing committee on public accounts, said the continuous delays and missed deadlines made “a complete mockery of the entire process”.

“It also reaffirms suspicions that the BRPs [business rescue practitioners] were never in control of the process because it was intercepted by political meddling.”

SAA entered business rescue on December 5, but the final report has been delayed by a range of issues, including uncertainty about finance and a disagreement between the practitioners and public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan, who has opposed their plan to wind down the company.

Last week, Numsa and Sacca asked for the extension on the final plan after refusing to attend a meeting with Matuson and Dongwana at which the plan was to be discussed.

A draft business plan was circulated to affected parties, including the department of public enterprises, employees and creditors. But the two unions said that rather than engage with the practitioners directly, they preferred to engage over the plan in the SAA leadership forum, a body established by Gordhan to consider an alternative plan to save the airline.

The DA has been in favour of the practitioners liquidating SAA and has questioned why this has not happened. The government and unions insist, however, that the business can be saved and a new airline can emerge from it.

Lees said that some six months and five creditor-approved extensions later there was still no sign of a business rescue plan for the airline.

He said Gordhan “has repeatedly stated that the ANC government would not allow SAA to be liquidated. This is seemingly the reason behind Matuson and Dongwana’s apparent failure to follow section 141 of the Companies Act and file for the liquidation of the airline.” 

“Their reluctance has purportedly been based on the pronouncements by Gordhan that SAA will not be allowed to be liquidated and, by implication, further taxpayer bailouts will be paid to SAA in the current company or in some reincarnated new company,”Lees said.