No final decision on SAA’S future – Brown
WHETHER or not the government took on a strategic business partner for embattled national carrier SAA remained under discussion, Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said yesterday.
“It will come out in terms of a process that is happening in SAA at the moment. I still want a turnaround strategic person or company to be appointed, to help us in SAA to work off our balance sheet,” she told reporters in Cape Town.
Speaking at a government economics cluster media briefing, she stressed that the state did not have money to bail out SAA. “And I think that came out very clearly in the [recently tabled] medium-term budget policy statement.”
Brown repeated that her department needed to look at a new business model for SAA.
“And then, to match that, a new financial model. And within that financial model, it will then determine whether we take a strategic partner, or whether SAA can live off its balance sheet. So it remains in the pool for discussion. It hasn’t been removed,” she said.
Responding to a question on what was happening with suspended SAA chief executive Monwabisi Kalawe, Brown said he was not back at work.
“At this stage, he’s not in his job. But we’ve started a process to make sure there’s a fair process that happens within SAA around the CEO. And I’m quite committed to that. Because, at the end, [SAA is] an R85 billion contributor to GDP [gross domestic product]. It is a strategic asset… we must make it work.”
She said this was currently “at a bit of a sensitive level”, but she would report back when some agreement was reached. “The board actually suspended him. Then I told the board they should not suspend him unless there’s a due process… and the board then reinstated him.
“A letter sent to me said they’d reinstated him and I believed that. But the CEO, as we speak now, is still not in his job.”
The minister has reportedly been at loggerheads with SAA chairwoman Dudu Myeni over Kalawe’s suspension.
Asked about this yesterday, she said she had started a process within SAA and “the idea is… that the chair and I have to work together”.
This process involved her, the board, Kalawe, and the department of public enterprises.