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Imagine that the family trust has finally managed to sell its duffed-up old Datsun for actual money — a considerable achievement as the tyres are bald, it is mostly rust and the petrol tank is one smacking bump from falling out of the bottom of the car completely.

Then profligate Uncle Bob pitches up and demands that the deal be scrapped. His argument? That he was never privy to the sale talks and that, anyway, the car is worth at least five times what the buyer offered because, well, it’s a Datsun. It may seem like a ludicrous scenario, but this is the line of thinking in some quarters of the ANC when it comes to the sale of SAA. The criticism, it seems, is based on the tired ideological objection to privatisation — even if the alternative would mean diverting money meant for services to keep the airline in the sky.

"The battle lines are drawn," an ANC committee leader told the Mail & Guardian this week. "This was never discussed ... SAA is a R300bn asset and this is another form of state capture."

While there are legitimate questions to be asked (such as who the unsuccessful bidders were), only the economically ignorant would see a R300bn asset in SAA, considering that all it has done is suck the taxpayer dry for a decade.

Clearly, the ANC could do with not only a snap course in bookkeeping, but a 101 in financial reality too.


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