Gordhan slams parliamentary committee chair’s call for probe into Takatso/SAA deal

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan refutes impropriety in the Takatso/SAA deal. File Photo: GCIS

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan refutes impropriety in the Takatso/SAA deal. File Photo: GCIS

Published Mar 21, 2024


Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday hit back at Khaya Magaxa, the chairperson of Parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises, for his call for a forensic investigation of the Takatso Consortium’s 51% takeover of South African Airways (SAA).

Gordhan said Magaxa’s call for an investigation, by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and other law enforcement clusters, misled the South African public by insinuating impropriety in the strategic equity partnership (SEP) deal that was proposed for SAA.

In a statement, Department of Public Enterprise (DPE) spokesperson Ellis Mnyandu said the department was appalled by Magaxa’s political machinations in deviating from the terms of the mandate set by Speaker of Parliament Nosiviwe Maphisa-Ngqakula.

Mnyandu said: "In essence, (Mr) Magaxa has turned a legitimate oversight exercise into a kangaroo court at which the DPE and its staff have been slandered, denigrated and pilloried for the sake of politicking.

“When the Speaker instructed the committee to look into a complaint by the former director-general of the DPE, she was not giving Mr Magaxa any right to act carte blanche, and beyond his mandate. It is troubling that a legitimate process has been hijacked for political opportunism and for misleading the South African public,” the DPE said.

“At issue was whether there was any impropriety in the deal. This is what Parliament’s own legal adviser pronounced upon, saying there was no sign of corruption in the deal, and yet Mr Magaxa sees fit to conflate issues by entertaining new lies by the former DG (Kgathatso Tlhakudi), wherein he denies that he had signed off on correspondence addressed to prospective partners during the evaluation of the expressions of interests,” the DPE said.

The statement referred to Gordhan's letter to Magaxa on Tuesday, cautioning the committee and Parliament from cutting too close to the wind in commercial transactions orchestrated by the executive arm of State.

In it, Gordhan referred to parliamentary legal advisor Andile Tetyana's declaration in his brief that he found no sign of corruption in the proposed transaction.

In the correspondence to Magaxa, Gordhan's letter had included certain documents:

– A duly certified copy of a Memorandum on Appointment of RMB as a transaction advisor, dated July 28, 2020, signed by Tlhakudi.

– A duly certified copy of a memorandum on update on the SEP process for SAA and advising potential SEPs on the next stage, dated April 7, 2021, and signed by Tlhakudi.

- A briefing note by Tetyana, in which he provided a review of the SEP transaction, and showcased instances from the documentation furnished to the committee, which underscore the key role played by the former DG in the SEP transaction.

Tlhakudi said this week the signatures on the documents were suspicious, pointing out that it was curious how his signature on three documents he is purported to have signed on one day could all be different.

Magaxa on Wednesday pointed out the reason for involving the law enforcement cluster stemmed from Parliament’s lack of capacity to do specialist investigations.

The DPE's statement criticised Magaxa in this regard.

“Mr Magaxa cannot change the mandate of the committee midstream, by suggesting that he does not have the capacity to make determinations on a matter that has already been subject to intense scrutiny and pronounced upon by Parliament’s own legal adviser,” it said.

Meanwhile, Maphisa-Ngqakula’s home in Bruma, Johannesburg, was raided on Tuesday morning after the National Prosecution Authority conducted a search and seizure operation at her house.

Maphisa-Ngqakula is currently under investigation and accused of soliciting bribes in return for awarding contracts when she served as defence minister.

However, according to a statement issued by Parliament, “the Speaker steadfastly upholds her strong conviction of innocence".