Workers of South African Airways (SAA) must not bear the brunt of management’s decisions, opposition parties said in response to SAA being put under business rescue.
Late on Wednesday evening, the news broke that President Cyril Ramaphosa instructed that SAA should be placed under business rescue.
Addressing the media in Parliament on Thursday, DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone, previously the party’s spokesperson on state-owned enterprises (SOEs), said the latest “attacks by the unions” hamstrung the airliner.
She said that last month SAA “burnt through a staggering R5 billion”.
Mazzone said SAA was an example of how state capture could scupper any prospects for success.
“We [have] now reached the point of no return,” she said.
She said the withdrawal of insurance on SAA tickets was an indication of the dire state the airliner was in.
“Our biggest concern is that staff at SAA doesn’t suffer because of the decisions of management,” she said.
“We have the sort of romantic notion that whenever SAA takes off, our flags takes off with it,” Mazzone said. “Now those flags stay on the ground.”
She said it was now time for rationality to trump ideology.
The IFP welcomed the “bold and decisive decision” to put SAA under business rescue.
IFP MP and spokesperson on public enterprises Mzamo Buthelezi said in a statement: “It is our hope that this type of decisive and bold action is taken against all those in management and on boards who are responsible for the critical financial and key management failures at many of our SOEs.
“We are pleased with this decision in regards to avoiding any further cash cows and we call on the shareholder to work very closely with the business rescue practitioner in ensuring that when the airline undergoes “radical” restructuring jobs are cut from the top.
“The IFP hopes that SAA will be meticulous in the implementation of this voluntary business process in the collective interests of the airline, fiscus and workers.”
He said this step was long overdue, considering the endless bailouts to SAA, totalling R57 billion.
“The airline was currently trading recklessly and financial statements have not been submitted to Parliament for the past two financial years.”
In a statement, Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem said: “When we see a company like SAA being put under business rescue, we should know that it is the beginning of the end.”
He said the ANC managed to destroy most SOEs.
“SAA is the first to be put under business rescue. Eskom will be next, followed by all other SOEs. This is the impact of state capture and corruption. Highly sophisticated criminals in suits and ties looted our country dry.
“The ANC defended former president Jacob Zuma and his friends when they were openly collapsing the country’s economy.”
Bloem said Ramaphosa’s hands were not clean.
“He was the deputy president when all this looting took place. He must take responsibility for this mess.”
“We reiterate our call to government, that whatever happened to SAA, no worker must lose his or her job. Workers can’t pay for the sins of Zuma and the Guptas.”