Once again the ministry of public enterprises has been caught sleeping on the job. It unilaterally ratified a decision to place SAA in business rescue without considering the effects of such proceedings on employees and  markets. Now the ministry cries foul over the decision by the business rescue practitioner to unilaterally implement cost-cutting measures on the busiest domestic routes without any meaningful engagement with labour.

Despite an alarming precedence and serious omissions in the proceedings, the practitioner had ventured on to a terrain the government does not favour, invariably causing ministry officials who think they hold some right to review the plan to throw their weight around. It’s a thinking fraught with illegal interference.

The law is clear that during the business rescue process, labour is entitled to be consulted during the development of the business rescue plan “and afforded sufficient opportunity to review any such plan and prepare a submission”, including addressing the meeting to determine the future of the company. The only reasonable conclusion to be drawn from these omissions is that the practitioner is out of step with the law.

The government would be best served by selling off SA Airlink and SA Express to raise cash and enable SAA to pay its debts. Some even argue that the SAA business model is exactly what the government proposes with Eskom, which would be equally likely to fail in the long run. Hence it wants us to accept what increasingly appears to be a questionable privatisation arrangement under a fabricated rubric of unbundling, an expedient ground to sustain the so-called “nine wasted years” narrative.

Morgan Phaahla

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