MPs set to quiz SAA's business rescue practitioners for the first time | Fin24
 
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MPs set to quiz SAA's business rescue practitioners for the first time

Feb 19 2020 05:00
Khulekani Magubane

The business rescue practitioners of SAA, Siviwe Dongwana and Les Matuson, are set to appear before Parliament for the first time, where MPs will quiz them about the latest developments in the process to save the country's beleaguered national carrier from liquidation.

Dongwana and Matuson are expected to brief Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts on Wednesday morning, after the state-owned airline was placed under voluntary business rescue in December. 

The meeting takes place about two weeks after the practitioners made the decision to cancel the airline's all domestic routes except for the popular Johannesburg-Cape Town flight to save cash. Some regional and international flights were also cancelled.

The decision angered unions, and President Cyril Ramaphosa also said that he did not agree with the move.

Below are four developments that Scopa members are expected to seek clarity on:

Ticket sales 

MPs are sure to want to ask the practitioners how question marks over the national carrier's future, flight cancellations and the withdrawal of ticket sales by some travel centres (some have since been reinstated) impacted sales. 

Last week, Flight Centre Travel Group announced  it had decided to start selling SAA tickets again after its preferred travel insurer reinstated travel supplier insolvency cover to the state-owned airline. 

Dongwana told Fin24 on Friday that the practitioners were are thrilled about decision, saying it "demonstrates a confidence in the business rescue process."

Interference

MPs may ask whether government's response to the public announcements and decisions of the business rescue practitioners in any way constitute interference in the business rescue process.

Earlier this month, Ramaphosa said he was unhappy with the decision to cancel routes. The president was backed by representatives of the tripartite alliance - comprising the governing African National Congress, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party, who said in a joint statement they pledged "unequivocal support for the statement made by the president disapproving of the cuts announced by business rescue practitioners of all SAA domestic routes but one, Johannesburg and Cape Town". 

Retrenchments 

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA and the SA Cabin Crew Association appeared in the Johannesburg Labour Court last week in a bid to prevent the business rescue practitioners from proceeding with what the unions claimed was an "accelerated retrenchment" process for employees that did not follow legally mandated processes.

During that court appearance, SAA's lawyer Andrew Redding SC said there was no evidence indicating that SAA will carry out accelerated retrenchments. 

The Labour Court dismissed the urgent application, but Numsa and Sacca lodged an application to appeal. A ruling on leave to appeal has not yet been made. 

SAA's ultimate fate

While the business rescue practitioners have not yet released their plan to save the airline, MPs may try to quiz them about it anyway.

The plan is set to be published before the end of the month. 

The ANC has expressed its willingness to save the national carrier and continue running it as a flagship state business of the state. The Democratic Alliance believes it is not worth holding onto the airline any longer, especially if it will continue to be a drain on the system.

The Economic Freedom Fighters, meanwhile, have been especially hostile towards the business rescue process, considering it a veiled bid a privatising the airline.

parliament  |  south africa  |  sona debate
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