South Africa

Gordhan’s communist capitalism: SAA privatisation shrouded in secrecy

Gordhans veil of secrecy

One of the many ironies in the ANC-run South Africa is that an avowed Communist, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, is so determined to sell off the national silverware he would have made ardent capitalist Margaret Thatcher blush with inadequacy.

The minister has not turned his back on Communist best practice, however.

This week, he tried to throw a veil of secrecy over plans to privatise South African Airways so furtively it would have got him an admiring nod from Joseph Stalin himself.

In perhaps one of the more bizarre moments witnessed in a post-1994 parliament, Gordhan tried to get members of an oversight committee to sign a nondisclosure agreement before he would release documents to them relating to the SAA sale.

This, remember, was a member of a ruling party which for years slated its National Party predecessor for holding on to its dark secrets.

ALSO READ: ‘He’s made a mess of SAA sale’ – Ramaphosa urged to fire Gordhan over Takatso deal

There is some merit in Gordhan’s argument that the documents he eventually grudgingly handed over, contain commercially sensitive information. But this is no ordinary trade sale.

We, the citizens of South Africa, are the actual shareholders of an airline owned by the state.

This state contracted, via the democratic process, to run the country on our behalf.

But we do not have any way to judge whether or not Gordhan is hiding anything.

Something like a government financial guarantee, perhaps?

ALSO READ: Gordhan announces new leadership at Transnet: Michelle Phillips is new GCEO

A guarantee to the Takatso Consortium, which is the preferred buyer of SAA, that the government (taxpayers in reality) will write off all of SAA’s multibillion debt?

In return for the nominal R51 Takatso will pay for the bankrupt state entity.

SAA’s latest loss – for nine trading months – is just under R800 million.

The only way someone will buy a financial black hole like that is if they’ve been promised a sweet deal.

But, we might never know…

ALSO READ: ‘Minister Gordhan does not take instructions from unions’ – Department of Public Enterprise