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Zuma: Govt will never sell SAA

Jacob Zuma says he is sending a clear message to detractors of SAA: government will never sell the airline.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNEBSURG - President Jacob Zuma says government will never sell South African Airways (SAA) despite criticism and calls for privatisation.

Zuma is visiting the SAA head office in Kempton Park where he is addressing workers and meeting with the board.

The president visited Eskom this morning, where he says he has seen evidence that load shedding is a thing of the past.

President Zuma says he is sending a clear message to detractors of SAA: Government will never sell the airline, but will instead strengthen the airline.

"What has crossed our mind is to strengthen the company so we move forward. That's all. So I don't want anyone to think this company is about to be sold, no."

He says the state-entity will create economic growth because it is the face of South Africa globally.

"I wouldn't understand any notion that will say this company's capacity must be reduced."

With government the majority shareholder, Zuma says he is eager to hear about the plans from the board to turn the company around.

He says SAA has the capacity to develop and he will work closely with the board.

He has been given a warm welcome from employees with many finding his message of "Make this SAA engine take off" encouraging.

'I DON'T OWN SAA'

Meanwhile, SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni has assured President Zuma that the airline is turning the corner and it has money to operate.

Myeni says while the airline has many challenges to face, its planes are always full.

"This company has money. It will continue to operate without government guarantees."

Myeni has also made it clear that she does not own SAA, but rather safeguards it for government, despite people saying otherwise.

"I know that it has happened so many times that people thought SAA belongs to me, but the good thing is that you know very well that SAA belongs to government and we are here to safeguard the entities of government."

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