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'Plan to sell Telkom shares to raise R10bn to bail out SAA just an option'

Eyewitness News has had sight of the document which includes a draft bill for the appropriation of the R10 billion.

FILE:  Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

PARLIAMENT - The Ministry of Finance says the plan to sell off government’s stake in Telkom to raise an R10 billion bailout for ailing national airline South African Airways (SAA) is just one option being considered.

Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentarian Alf Lees stunned MPs when he told Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday that he had a Cabinet document containing Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s detailed proposal for the move.

Ramaphosa, who was answering MPs’ questions in Parliament, neither confirmed nor denied the plan, saying that government’s strategic assets remained under review.

Eyewitness News has had sight of the document which includes a draft bill for the appropriation of the R10 billion.

Lees questioned whether it was a good idea.

“Honourable Deputy President, do you support a sale of a good asset to save a bad asset?”

The Economic Freedom Fighters also challenged the move.

The document values government’s nearly 40% shareholding in Telkom at more than R14 billion and notes it will cost the fiscus R800m in annual dividends.

Lees’ revelation came just hours after Deputy Finance Minister Sfiso Buthelezi told Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts that SAA would not be allowed to go under and would not be privatised.

Finance ministry spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete has confirmed the document is a Cabinet memorandum.

But he says it is one option among others that the government is considering assisting the cash-strapped SAA and that nothing has yet been finalised.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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