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

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