‘Corrupt’ SAA sale to be challenged in court

The United Democatic Movement (UDM) intends to launch an urgent court application to set aside the “corrupt” 51% sale of SAA that involves Harith General Partners

This was the assertion made on Monday by UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, who said the organisation had briefed its lawyers with the intention to launch legal action against Harith’s involvement in the Takatso Consortium

Two weeks ago, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan announced that the Takatso Consortium, which includes Global Airways, will own 51% of the embattled airline. The minister also said the government would not be funding SAA from the fiscus anymore. 

But Holomisa told the Mail & Guardian that the UDM would be launching a court application to set aside the sale, because of negative findings made against Harith in a judicial commission of inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation (PIC). 

The PIC commission found that Harith charged “significantly high fees”, with the company’s executives reaping “rich rewards” after its then chief executive, Tshepo Mahloele, was tasked by former president Thabo Mbeki in 2007 to manage the Pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund. 

Holomisa, who testified against Harith during the PIC inquiry, said he expected to have finished reading the UDM lawyers’ arguments by Tuesday, and hoped that the court papers would be served to the public enterprises department by Thursday. 

“The important thing is that we are taking the minister’s decision on review. It would appear that the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. 

“President [Cyril] Ramaphosa appointed a commission of inquiry, which has implicated one of the main [SAA] shareholders, which is Harith. Before parliament has been informed on what steps the PIC and treasury, which is responsible for the PIC, have taken in light of the inquiry’s findings, then they [the government] allocates business to this [company] that has been implicated in the report,” Holomisa asserted. 

“This means that there was no due diligence done [before Gordhan’s announcement]. The asset of the state [SAA] is being given to a company that was found to have been questionable. 

“So, we hope that the application will be an urgent one, because there is no need to waste time. This is a corrupt deal,” he added. 

In February, Harith said in a statement that the Southern African Venture Capital and Private Equity Association had found, “in an independent investigation”, that “the establishment of Pan-African Investment Development Fund; the subsequent founding of Harith as a fund manager; and its commercial relationships with its institutional investors — were all in line with industry standards and appropriate governance practices”. 

“As stated before, we believe the PIC commission report erred in its findings and demonstrated a lack of understanding of the complexities of the private equity industry,” read Harith’s statement.

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