Mabuza: South Africans love SAA, so we won’t let it go

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Deputy president David Mabuza told Parliament on Tuesday afternoon that government had no intention of relinquishing ownership of South African Airways during the business rescue process, because "South Africans love the airline".

The business rescue process at SAA, led by business rescue practitioners Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, is at an advanced stage, with the practitioners due to complete and hand in their business rescue plan for the national carrier soon.

Speaking at News24's Frontline panel discussion on Thursday, Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan said: "It's the business rescue practitioner's plan. We have no authority. We have a view, but it would be stupid to put forward a view that would lead to another collapse."

However, Mabuza was slightly more bullish about the shared long-term future of SAA and government as its owner, saying government would use the business rescue plan to inform that shared future.

"As government, we are not looking at privatising the airline. We still think we can deal with the challenges that are being faced by the airline. That is why we have allowed, this time, a business rescue practitioner," said Mabuza.

Mabuza said government remained committed to guiding SAA to recovery and maintained that he did not believe the airline’s days were numbered.

"We want to rescue the business. We agree that the business is facing a lot of strain and is going through difficult times. But we have not come to a point where we should desert the business. We still think South Africans want this business. It is their business. We have not reached a point where we think South Africans are saying 'sell this business'," Mabuza said.

Mabuza added, however, that government would not interfere with the business rescue process and that the recommendations of the business rescue plan would be considered seriously.

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