Cape Town - The stalemate between Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and South African Airways (SAA) board chairperson Dudu Myeni is rapidly driving SAA to total collapse and simply can’t be allowed to happen to the national carrier, the DA charged on Monday.
DA shadow deputy minister of finance Alf Lees said the tabling of SAA's annual financial statements is no longer a question of time, but a matter of a "very much delinquent board".
He was reacting to Parliament's tabling on Monday of Gordhan's letter requesting a fourth extension in the last 10 months for a delay in the deadline for the tabling of these results.
He said the DA formally requested the chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance, Yunus Carrim, to seek a legal opinion regarding Parliament’s authority in law to grant such an extension.
"It is in our contention that there is no provision made in the Public Finance Management Act whereby Parliament is given the authority to extend the deadline. Parliament must give effect to this deadline and interrogate these long overdue financials."
Gordhan requested extensions of the deadline for tabling of SAA's annual report for 2014/15 on 15 February, 15 March, 29 April and yet again on 7 July - this time to 15 September 2016.
Lees said SAA is currently in possession of exorbitant government guarantees, which represent a significant risk to the economy and the fiscus, and is asking for more.
"The long-overdue annual financial statements have been outstanding since 15 September 2015, that is 10 months. 10 months that Parliament has not been able to exercise its oversight role, 10 months of no accountability at SAA and 10 months of open defiance of directives issued by the National Treasury."
He said the problems persistently plaguing SAA are now a matter of public interest and must be made public.
SAA has received a number of government bailouts worth at least R14.4bn as part of its turnaround strategy, but Gordhan warned in January the carrier cannot become a liability on the fiscus.
Gordhan emphasised in all his letters that the application for SAA’s going concern guarantee is still under consideration.