Watching the standing committee on public accounts’ (Scopa) proceedings on SA Airways (SAA) in parliament makes one’s blood boil. How far we have descended as a country is not to be celebrated.

The senior executives of SAA flew to Cape Town — probably at the taxpayer’s expense and using our national carrier. They were not prepared for the grilling that the Scopa members meted out. There was a lack of adequate responses and most questions were met with: "We will come back to you with that information." What makes matters worse is that they didn’t even know the names of the subordinates responsible for procurement at the national carrier.

It’s no wonder SAA is bankrupt, seeking bailouts from treasury year in and year out.

The unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure is testament to the mediocrity displayed by the board and the executives.

However, competence, efficiency and good governance should not be negotiable at SAA or any of our parastatals. These should be pillars of our economy, sustaining economic growth and helping the country fight unemployment, poverty and inequality.

As a country, we shouldn’t tolerate substandard performances from any of those employed in these institutions.

But there’s a bigger and more fundamental question to be asked: who is responsible?

Blame for the rot and mediocrity at SAA must be put squarely at the door of finance minister Malusi Gigaba. He was the political head of the public enterprises department when this SAA board was appointed and when it — led by chair Dudu Myeni — appointed these senior executives. Gigaba must take full responsibility and deal with the underperformance, mediocrity and lack of clean governance at SAA before he thinks about another bailout.

Mafika Siphiwe MgcinaNorth Riding

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