The downward trajectory of State-owned defence and technology conglomerate Denel will next week be the subject of yet another round of legal arguments when an application for liquidation makes it to the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.
The application was initiated by specialist defence industry company Saab Grintek in the wake of Denel apparently not paying the Highveld Park, Centurion, company for work it performed. The High Court appearance is reported by UASA (United Association of SA – the Union) which has questions for Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan in the light of ongoing uncertainty about the future of Denel, notwithstanding a turnaround strategy announced by interim chief executive William Hlakoane in August. The Florida, Gauteng headquartered labour organisation, which is affiliated to FEDUSA (Federation of Unions of SA), said in a weekend statement that Pretoria-based SME Infratech is part of the Saab Grintek liquidation application to be heard on 11 October.
SME Infratech, according to the SA Capital Equipment Export Council (SACEEC), specialises in engineering unique products and providing turnkey solutions to meet complex requirements, with a focus on HVAC and complex mechanical systems.
UASA, not content with repeated failings by Denel to meet full salary and employee benefit commitments despite court orders for it to do so, penned a letter to Gordhan ahead of the High Court hearing. The missive has it that, if the liquidation applications are successful, it will be the “death knell” for thousands of jobs and will be followed by the “devastating socio-economic impact of even more unemployment in South Africa”.
UASA asks Gordhan for clarification on three issues. They are: will the State – as sole Denel shareholder – oppose liquidation; will Denel employees be paid all outstanding salaries and benefits – in full – and will the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) afford Denel the same or similar financial and rescue support other SOEs such as SAA enjoyed?