SAA managers told to blow the whistle

The Department of Public Enterprises has urged senior managers at the embattled state-owned SAA to report corruption to law-enforcement agencies in instances they discover evidence of graft in the running of the organisation.

Sunday World can reveal that five senior managers wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa to complain about an elaborate plan to collapse the national carrier, warning plans were afoot to frustrate the restructuring of the company into a new airline.

The managers also complained that black senior executives of the flag carrier were being targeted and sidelined and, in some instances, bullied.

“We strongly believe that there is an orchestrated effort aimed at destroying SAA to its ashes and remove state/public participation in the airline industry in favour of private interests,” the managers told Ramaphosa.

They alleged the current board was interfering in the processes to award
tenders.

“The corruption and interference of board members in operational matters,
procurement processes and appointments – not only in senior but also other management positions sufficiently highlighted,” they said in the letter, dated September 3.

The senior executives sought an audience with Ramaphosa to expose how the board had not furnished parliament with accurate information on the crisis that has crippled the company.

They added that attention needed to be paid on the role that the Department
of Public Enterprises has played in the airline nearly folding.

In response, the department’s director-general, Kgothatso Tlhakudi, acknowledged the letter to the president, saying the department had noted concerns raised by the managers.

On allegations of corruption, Tlhakudi said: “As management of a state-owned entity, I urge them to report any known corruption at SAA to the law enforcement agencies of this country.

“The minister [Pravin Gordhan] has been championing the fight to address malfeasance that has occurred at state-owned enterprises and it is, therefore, your duty as representatives of the state in safeguarding assets by reporting any malfeasance.”

The department said on Friday that it had received 20 expressions of interest from private sector funders, private equity investors and partners for a restructured SAA.


In terms of the SAA rescue plan, the embattled national carrier needs at least
R10-billion in short-, medium- and long-term funding for it to take to the skies
again.

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