Letter: SAA a microcosm - Businesslive

14 November 2019 - What makes the whole saga so important is that it captures the conundrum and contradictions the ANC and its alliance partners will soon face on a national level. An airline can be shut down, sold or further subsidised — and if union action ultimately causes either of the first two results the irony will be particularly great. However, a country is a very different matter; it cannot be shut down or sold — it can only be bailed out, reformed or allowed to collapse.

It can be difficult to capture adequately the entire quantum of what is wrong in our country, but in SAA we have a microcosm of sorts that serves as a case study of what is wrong with the whole (“Sacca and Numsa to embark on mother of all strikes at SAA,” November 13).

Corruption, cadre deployment, plain mismanagement, political interference and the misapplication of empowerment and equity policies all feature in the sorry saga that is the airline.

Now just under 1,000 people (roughly the number of jobs SAA may axe) must pay the price for those policies. Grotesquely, given the greater extent of poverty and unemployment, the government has for years been forced to turn to taxpayers to essentially subsidise the travel costs of people who fly — even as government debt and deficit levels escalate alarmingly and the overall living standards of millions of people decline.

Unions have now entered the fray, and, in defence of their members, demanded that the subsidisation of the airline continue. Adding to the absurdity is that the airline is an unnecessary extravagance as there are numerous local and foreign competitors who could profitably ferry South Africans and foreign visitors alike around the country and the world.

What makes the whole saga so important is that it captures the conundrum and contradictions the ANC and its alliance partners will soon face on a national level. An airline can be shut down, sold or further subsidised — and if union action ultimately causes either of the first two results the irony will be particularly great.

However, a country is a very different matter; it cannot be shut down or sold — it can only be bailed out, reformed or allowed to collapse. What the ANC and the government do with SAA over the coming months should be watched closely as it will be suggestive of what may later happen to the greater whole.

Frans Cronje, Institute of Race Relations

https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/letters/2019-11-14-letter-saa-a-microcosm/

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