What is going on at SAA on money owed?
I READ with absolute amazement your Business Report in Wednesday’s Cape Times regarding the outstanding debts owed to SAA.
While I realise your reporter is merely reporting on what he was told I feel that he should have gone into a bit more depth in finding out exactly what our carrier is doing to recuperate the monies owed.
For starters, how is it possible to be giving credit to Zimbabwe, whose debt is believed to be R98 million. Other countries mentioned are Angola, Nigeria and Senegal.
Has any formal arrangement been concluded with regard to repayment of these outstanding monies or do we simply carry on providing tickets on a “fly-now, pay-later” scheme. Mention is made of discussions with Zimbabwean authorities for settlement. How are these discussions going and is there any constructive end in sight?
The airline is mentioned as being optimistic that the aforementioned countries would finally cough up the full amounts but, again, on what basis is this statement made bearing in mind that the discussions are “ongoing”.
It is mentioned that Zimbabwe made a part payment of the outstanding debt but the airways declined to disclose what amount was settled. It further mentions that this part payment shows intent on the part of the debtor, but without any amounts being disclosed it is hard to understand whether intent has any meaning in this instance.
One of our former finance ministers (Malusi Gigaba) raised this issue in Parliament (I cannot imagine how long ago that was). The rather vague response given was that none of the aforementioned countries had refused to pay their outstanding debts. Again my question: “How are they possibly going to pay and when are they going to pay?”
I do not know the amounts and how many times the government has bailed out SAA but I know that it has been ongoing and that the amounts are staggering and that the people of South Africa are the ones bearing the brunt of this sort of mismanagement. What is the government’s objection to SAA being sold to the private sector? Are there skeletons in the cupboard that will be laid bare should this take place?
Siyabonga Mkhwanazi, my thanks to you for bringing us this report on the state of SAA and may I suggest you follow up on your reporting for an update in the nottoo-distant future