There should be more than one practitioner, and unions want to be involved to ensure transparency, they say.
Unions representing workers at SAA have demanded to be a part of the selection process to appoint a business rescue practitioner, in fear that if the wrong one is chosen it could lead to another disaster.
According to the deputy chief executive of Solidarity, Werner Human, trade unions involved, including the South African Cabin Crew Association and National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, were concerned that there would be lack of transparency in the process with just SAA executives in the decision-making process.
Human said: “We welcome the decision made by the department of public enterprises. But we are worried that SAA has been given the responsibility to choose the practitioner. We are concerned over the transparency of the process; we have to remember that it is the executive and board of SAA that has led the parastatal to the state that it is currently in. How can we trust them?”
He said the unions were demanding to have a say in the process and if they were not allowed to do so they would consider legal action.
Meanwhile, South African Federation of Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the move to put the cash-strapped parastatal under a business practitioner was one step closer to privatising the entity.
He said they suspected the government had an objective to force state-owned enterprises into crisis so that they could sell them “to their friends” at bargain prices.
“We are suspecting that the decision taken by the department to place the entity under a business rescue practitioner is part of government’s strategy of privatising the state-owned entity,” Vavi said.
Also weighing in was the South African Communist Party, who said: “The investigation (by the business rescue practitioner) remains relevant. It is an important part of turning SAA around and ensuring that it becomes a viable and thriving productive public asset. Its scope must include a focus on irregularities, corruption and value for money.”
Solidarity added they were waiting for response from both the embattled flag carrier and government about their request for another practitioner and to be a part of the decision-making process.
Human said: “We now know that SAA is officially under business rescue. We have written a letter to SAA and the Minister’s (Pravin Gordhan) attorneys to request that we ought to be included in the process to ensure transparency. If not, then we will be reviewing our legal position.
“They do not only have to have one practitioner. It is advisable that they have at least another practitioner because this process is a massive undertaking. We have provided the court with three names already,” said Human.
He said for now they would be waiting for a response on Friday morning.