The finances and management of South African Airways (SAA) were once again due to come under the spotlight before Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) on Tuesday.
The airline’s business rescue practitioners (BRPs) Siviwe Dongwana and Les Matuson were however a no-show, resulting in the committee postponing the meeting to an unknown date, much to the frustration of members of Parliament (MPs).
The rescue practitioners were scheduled to provide Parliament’s watchdog with an update on SAA’s 15-month long business rescue process.
They were also due to provide an update on the progress of investigations conducted by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) into the affairs of the state-owned airline.
Probe into irregularities
Earlier this month, the SIU revealed that its investigations had uncovered irregularities in the purchase and leasing of aircraft, irregularities related to procurement processes for maintenance and technical repair contracts, the abuse of travel benefits, and irregular payments to vendors.
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The investigations covered the period before the airline entered business rescue in December 2019.
Scopa chair Mkhuleko Hlengwa said the rescue practitioners were sent correspondence and asked to appear before the committee on March 3 following the release of the SIU’s findings.
The rescue practitioners confirmed that they would attend but informed the committee late on Monday evening that they would not be available due to Matuson suffering a bereavement.
While expressing his condolences to Matuson, Hlengwa said that moving forward the committee would not continue to accept “unsatisfactory” conduct from the rescue practitioners, because it throws a spanner in the works of the committee’s mandate to hold the government to account for how public money is spent.
“It sets a precedent which will make it untenable for the committee to assert Parliament’s authority on government departments and entities,” he said.
DA MP Benedicta Maria Van Minnen said the rescue practitioners’ no-show is an indication that they are flouting any attempts to hold them to account, adding that Scopa should consider issuing a subpoena to compel Matuson and Dongwana to appear before the committee.
Hlengwa suggested that the committee postpone the meeting to March 23 during Parliament’s six-week recess period.
However, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, who was also at the meeting, indicated that he would be unable to attend on that date because that is when he is scheduled to appear before the Zondo Commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture.
Hlengwa said a new date would be confirmed, adding that it would be before the end of Parliament’s recess.
This story originally appeared on Moneyweb.