SAA privatisation is a fallacy
TRUE privatisation requires that the majority shareholder is independent politically and ideologically of government. The SAA deal announced by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan falls short of those criteria.
Irrespective of Gidon Novick’s record in the airline industry, as the new chief executive of SAA, he faces a limited ceiling of what he can do. That is because of the 33% golden share in voting rights the government has in the deal.
Although ostensibly the minority shareholder in the partnership, with 49%, it gives the government veto power in changes over the consortium’s charter, notably where the ideology of racial baasskap, known as “transformation”, is concerned, which is described in the deal as “an uppermost goal”.
Beyond that, while Jabu Moleketi may have retired from service in the Cabinet, it is naïve to think that although he is the chairperson of Harith, which comprises half of the Takatso Consortium, he is no longer beholden to the ANC.
Thus, the ideological and political umbilical cord with the ANC prevails. As the Institute of Race Relations has observed, “the greater the degree of state control, the less chance of turnarounds and any likelihood that such a deal will fly in the markets”. That is the reason Ethiopian Airlines declined to do a deal with SAA.
The ANC government has given nothing away and remained true to its ideological conviction that privatisation is taboo.
DUNCAN DU BOIS |