ANC stealing money to throw at eternally nosediving SAA

Business

ANC stealing money to throw at eternally nosediving SAA

ANALYSIS | And, again, the big banks are there, greasing the wheels. They should be ashamed of themselves

Peter Bruce

The fake “business rescue” of SAA is a pantomime that continues to surprise, amuse and confound. This week it was announced that the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) would lend the struggling airline R3.5bn. This was because when it went into voluntary business rescue in December a lie was created that now cannot be undone.

The voluntary bit is a misnomer – the lie. The government put SAA into rescue only because trade union Solidarity was going to court to apply to liquidate it. Having escaped certain annihilation for the airline had the Solidarity approach succeeded, public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan scampered around like a terrier trying to raise the money SAA needed to see it through three months of business rescue. He got the private sector to reluctantly stump up R2bn, and finance minister Tito Mboweni, probably delighted at some movement at his least favourite state-owned enterprise, promised another R2bn.

It never happened, and the R2bn the banks paid up has already been eaten. You can see why. Cost-cutting has been superficial, and a friend who flew SAA to Johannesburg from London on Tuesday night reports that business class was half full and there were no more than 20 people in economy. Still, the Treasury has exhausted all its emergency funds and couldn’t supply the R2bn it promised...

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