Gordhan and the SAA saga

Gordhan and the SAA saga

By Johnson Qobo

Will we ever see justice? Is probably one of the critical questions crossing the minds of many South Africans following the fallout between Takatso Consortium and the South African Airways (SAA) during the week terminating all negotiations as announced by Minister Pravin Gordhan.

The Minister for Public Enterprises Mr Pravin Gordhan, who earlier this month through his department announced his intention to retire after the upcoming national and provincial elections; announced that that the preferred strategic equity partner Takatso Consortium and SAA reached a mutual agreement to terminate negotiations on the transaction for Takatso to acquire 51 percent of the state owned enterprise.

This led to an outburst of members of society, unions and political parties saying this deal should have never happened in the first place, it was an attempted heist and as such more than 7 000 people lost their jobs, Mango and SA Express went under, resulting into more job losses.

DPE gave reason that the asserts of SAA have appreciated now that the market is open again post COVID-19 and that Takatso Consortium felt that the current going price is too high. Then, the argument creeps in, is it a matter of affordability or the DPE failed to conduct their due diligence and make sure that the Consortium has the buy-in money? Or was it a matter of dropping the value of the entity and sell it at the cheapest price as fast as possible?

According to the DPE, SAA has shown signs of recovery and somewhat profitability but is not out of the woods yet. The management of SAA will now have to come up with a corporate strategy to ensure that the airline stays afloat and grows and recovers from all the alleged corruption that took place over the years.

Pravin Gordhan will be leaving active politics after elections, this might mean; he will go unpunished for all the atrocities that happened at the state owned enterprises. He has been dubbed as powerful and untouchable by some political parties and critics, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) made a lot of noise about the deal, alleging that it is corrupt to the core, but that led to nothing.

South Africa is yet to witness a justice system that does not discriminate or draw distinction between ordinary citizens and the elite. Many politicians have been reported to have been involved in corruption but to date, no one has ever been arrested and successfully prosecuted for the serious crimes committed, it is always the small guy, the fall guy but never the big fish.

Pravin Gordhan has been alleged to have been involved in a number of corrupt activities including that of SARS; though there were calls to investigate and prosecute him, not a single finger was lifted. Thousands of families have lost an income under his leadership; the Takatso-SAA deal was kept hush hush until now with the lapse of negotiations.

Political parties, unions, civil society and the general public are celebrating that the deal has failed and calling for Gordhan’s head; but given our history, chances are, he will retire peacefully somewhere and someone will have to come in and clean the mess up. People have been fired and some more might get fired, but the Minister will get to walk, he will enjoy his grandchildren at his home while other lives remain in ruin. The ANC protects its own, they will come out and talk tough, but it’s the little guy who is going to take the fall.


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