Further police investigations into the financial crisis rocking the state’s airways (SAA) has named the deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas in corruption allegations.
Jonas is being investigated by the Hawks elite police unit as part of a probe into allegations of corruption at the state-owned South African Airways (SAA).
According to reports by City press newspaper, the police unit is investigating allegations that the deputy finance minister used his political influence to secure US aircraft company AAR Corp contracts to supply components and tyres to the state airline.
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The allegation is that Jonas introduced AAR Corp to an SAA board member, with a request that he “look after them”.
The unidentified Hawks sources cited by the newspaper involve the South African Airways maintenance division, SAA Technical (Saat), and U.S. aircraft maintenance business AAR Corp
Mcebisi Jonas has been an outspoken critic of the Zuma-led government. He opened divides within the ruling African National Congress last year when he said businessmen friends of President Jacob Zuma said they could secure him the finance ministry job.
The deputy minister has been rumored to be on the list of those likely to lose their jobs if President Jacob Zuma decides to reshuffle the cabinet.
Insiders told the newspaper that if a reshuffle which is targeting the finance ministry went ahead, it would lead to a breakout within the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa would lead them
Sources also claimed that if the reshuffle went ahead, ministers would resign from Cabinet but keep their parliamentary seats and initiate a vote of no confidence against Zuma.
Though the Hawks has come to say on Monday, that it was not investigating Mcebisi Jonas but was only making enquiries on the allegations, Hawks spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi reportedly admitted the finance deputy was being investigated on the matter.
“We don’t want to even suggest that the minister is being investigated or anything. We are not party to that,” the investigative unit said
Treasury spokeswoman Yolisa Tyantsi declined to comment, while the spokespeople for Jonas and the SAA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
AAR Corp however, could not be reached for comment but the firm was quoted by City Press as denying any wrongdoing. “AAR conducts its business with the highest ethical and legal standards,” an unidentified spokesman was quoted as saying.