Wind beneath the wings of SAA

Johannesburg – Most South Africans would rather we have a governing party or a president someone who, when faced with a new set of facts and a changing environment, responded appropriately than be straight-jacketed by political dogma.

The government’s latest strategy seems to be a call for a sweeping response to the pervasive problems starting from the energy crisis to the ailing national airline.

This demands serious attention from all of us.

Let me explain.

Faced with the inexorable reality of endless bailouts for SAA; a depressed, highly volatile, and competitive global travel industry caused by a seemingly never-ending Covid- 19 pandemic; and pervasive maladministration and decades of corruption at the ailing airline, the government was left with very little choice but to sell a controlling stake in SAA to the Takatso consortium following a selection process managed by transaction advisors RMB.

Local private equity firm Harith is a majority shareholder in the Takatso consortium.

State participation in key sectors of the economy is often used as a catalyst to create economic value for a country, as well as address areas where market failure exist.

Selling a stake in the ailing airline is, arguably, one of Ramaphosa’s boldest political decisions made.

This decision has riled ANC alliance partner SACP and, though Cosatu’s silence could be mistaken for tacit approval, most unions don’t seem to be in alignment with the strategy.

Most importantly, some jobs will be preserved and the country stands to gain economic value from a remodelled, competitive SAA.

What this transaction also does is offer a stake to employees.

It is anticipated that binding terms and conditions of the sale will only be determined and finalised once Takatso has concluded a due diligence exercise on SAA.

For the sake of our sustainable economic development, our SOEs must work.

And those that don’t and cannot be fi xed and therefore have no economic value must be disposed of.

Finally, I can’t help but muse about the choice of consortium name – Takatso. Takatso means a yearning or wish in Sotho languages.

Could it be a yearning for acceptance even by their own? A wish to be treated equally and fairly just as anyone else?

Or simply a desire to excel in their business ventures?

Call me an eternal optimist, but I am now more confident of SAA’s successful turnaround than ever before.

Tebogo Khaas

• Khaas is founder and trustee of Public Interest SA. Follow him on Twitt er @tebogokhaas.

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