Cape Town - Whether or not government takes on a strategic business partner for embattled carrier SAA remains under discussion, Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said on Thursday.
"It will come out in terms of a process that is happening in SAA at the moment. I still want a turnaround strategic person or company to be appointed, to help us in SAA to work off our balance sheet," she told reporters in Cape Town.
Speaking at a government economics cluster media briefing, she stressed that the state did not have money to bail out SA Airways.
"And I think that came out very clearly in the [recently-tabled] medium-term budget policy statement."
Brown repeated that her department needed to look at a new business model for SAA.
"And then, to match that, a new financial model. And within that financial model, it will then determine whether we take a strategic partner, or whether SAA can live off its balance sheet.
"So it remains in the pool for discussion. It hasn't been removed," she said.
Responding to a question on what was happening with suspended SAA CEO Monwabisi Kalawe, Brown said he was not back at work.
"At this stage, he's not in his job. But we've started a process to make sure there's a fair process that happens within SAA around the CEO. And I'm quite committed to that.
"Because, at the end, [SAA is] an R85 billion contributor to GDP. It is a strategic asset... we must make it work."
She said this was currently "at a bit of a sensitive level", but she would report back when some agreement was reached.
"The board actually suspended him. Then I told the board they should not suspend him unless there's a due process... And the board then re-instated him.
"A letter sent to me said they'd re-instated him And I believed that. But the CEO, as we speak now, is still not in his job."
Brown has reportedly been at loggerheads with SAA chair Dudu Myeni over Kalawe's suspension.
Asked about this on Thursday, she said she had started a process within SAA and "the idea is... that the chair and I have to work together".
This process involved her, the board, Kalawe, and the department of public enterprises.