Trade union Solidarity on Tuesday petitioned Parliament to hold a debate in the House of Assembly on the State-owned flag-carrier airline, South African Airways (SAA). The union also urged the government to support Solidarity’s application to place the airline under business rescue and to stop bailing the beleaguered carrier out.
The petition to Parliament followed the release, also on Tuesday, of a report on the condition of SAA drawn up by the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI). The report charged that the “constant factor” in the failure of SAA has been its sole shareholder – the South African government. It cited the failure of the government to implement two resolutions of the then SAA board in 2014: to place the airline under business rescue and to find a strategic partner for it.
“The report points out that, among other things, the SAA [sic] has not heeded the major changes that have taken place in the aviation industry since 2013,” stated the union in its press release. “This mismanagement has resulted in a hugely loss-making airline that has received endless bailouts just so as to remain in business in an inefficient way. The SRI report identifies the strategic imperatives that must be followed to turn SAA around and to make it profitable. The report also shows that the SAA cannot achieve this without external intervention.”
The union reaffirmed that it will, within the next two weeks, serve papers on the airline as part of the process of approaching the court to put SAA under business rescue. “If we succeed in this case, it could set a precedent for similar action at other State enterprises,” pointed out SRI head Connie Mulder.
“Taxpayers now have the opportunity to use the course [sic] to hold government accountable.” This court case could, he observed, be one of the most important “tax protest” cases in the country.
Solidarity also urged the Finance Minister to combine with it to request the court to prioritise the case. This was to ensure that the case was dealt with as soon as possible, so that certainty about the future of the airline could be reached more rapidly.