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UDM's Holomisa Calls for Ramaphosa to Act Against Gordhan Over SAA Sale Secrecy

Published March 01, 2024
3 months ago

In a tumultuous turn of events, United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa has called for President Cyril Ramaphosa to take decisive action against Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan, following Gordhan’s contentious parliamentary committee briefing regarding the sale of a majority stake in South African Airways (SAA). The controversial meeting, which Gordhan requested to be held behind closed doors, has fueled suspicions and intensified scrutiny over the details of the transaction with Takatso Consortium.

The drama unfolded when Gordhan appeared before the public enterprises committee on a Wednesday to present critical documentation tied to the deal which involved selling a 51% share of the beleaguered national airline SAA to Takatso. In an unusual move, the minister demanded that the session be conducted in camera, sparking immediate backlash and concern among various stakeholders.

Holomisa, in a strongly worded letter to Ramaphosa, has accused Gordhan of deliberately obscuring the facts surrounding the SAA sale, asserting that the minister’s insistence on a private briefing and the requirement for committee members to adhere to a nondisclosure agreement point to potential indiscretions. This has led to an uproar over the implications of such secrecy in a process that should be founded on transparency and accountability.

“Minister Gordhan continues to play delaying tactics in the entire matter,” Holomisa stated. He further accused Gordhan of attempting to "muzzle" the parliamentary committee, thereby undermining the very principles of open governance. Holomisa's condemnation did not stop there, as he urged Ramaphosa to “remove Minister Gordhan from office with immediate effect,” suggesting that Gordhan's handling of the SAA sale has been chaotic and shrouded in mystery.

The criticism leveled by Holomisa is reinforced by accusations from opposition party Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Farhat Essack, who claimed that repeated attempts to access documents related to the sale were obstructed by Gordhan. Despite numerous efforts, including a Promotion of Access to Information Act (Paia) application filed in March 2022, the DA's pursuit of clarity over the transaction has been met with stonewalling, with Gordhan allegedly leveraging "confidentiality concerns" embedded within the deal.

This stand-off over the SAA sale has profound implications, considering the airline's status as a Schedule 2 public company under the Public Finance Management Act, which mandates a high standard of transparency and accountability in the management of public entities.

Nevertheless, TimesLIVE Premium reported that after intense deliberations, Gordhan did deliver the requested documents to the committee. However, the push for non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) has cast a long shadow over the transparency of the deal and highlighted the contentious relationship between Gordhan and certain politicians and parties that demand openness.

In light of these developments, the UDM is now amplifying its demands for Ramaphosa to take immediate action against Gordhan, suggesting that his latest maneuverings are part of a greater attempt to conceal "dirty deeds." With national interest at stake, the sale of SAA remains not just an economic issue but also a litmus test for governance, ethics, and the standards of public enterprise management in South Africa.

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