An SAA fleet parked at OR Tambo International Airport. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
An SAA fleet parked at OR Tambo International Airport. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has asked for Parliament’s approval for a further delay in submitting the 2017-18 financial statements of embattled state-owned airline South African Airways (SAA).

He has asked for an extension until April 30 at the latest.

In a letter to speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete, which was tabled on Thursday, Gigaba said that outstanding “technical accounting matters” raised by the external auditors — the auditor-general — had still not been resolved. The same reason was behind the notice given by Gigaba to Mbete in September for the late filing of the SAA annual financial statements.

The delay in finalising its annual financial statements has also meant that SAA has not yet been able to hold its annual general meeting at which the statements are adopted. The last AGM was held on October 26 and the Companies Act requires that an AGM be held within 15 months of the previous one.

The deadline to meet this requirement was January 28 and Gigaba said in his letter to Mbete that the Companies Tribunal had been asked to authorise an extension of time for SAA to hold its AGM.

“The Companies Tribunal has granted SAA’s extension to hold its AGM on a date not later than March 31 2018,” Gigaba said in his letter.

DA deputy finance spokesman Alf Lees said he had written to Gigaba asking for reasons why SAA had still not held its AGM.

He said the DA found the extensions requested to be “unacceptable” as they violated the letter and spirit of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and the Companies Act, which enjoins public entities to table their financial statements timeously.

“SAA has been a drag on the fiscus with billions of rands of taxpayers money used to bail it out. Despite enjoying this unwarranted state largesse, SAA is now dithering on providing South Africans with an account of how their money was used.

“The DA will ensure that SAA and the minister of finance will not keep a lid on the financial rot at the airline. They will account for every rand that has been spent by the state to keep SAA afloat,” Lees said.