South Africa’s ruling political party insists that embattled South African Airways should be restructured and retained as the country’s flag-carrier.

The African National Congress made the declaration following strategy meetings of its national executive council over 17-20 January.

It states that SAA should be “retained as a national airline” but that this will require “substantial restructuring” of the company.

“Cabinet should take the operational decisions needed to achieve that aim,” it adds.

The ANC states that it received details of the situation at SAA – as well as another state enterprise, electricity firm Eskom – along with “specific proposals” to improve the companies’ performance.

It refers to the negative impact of historical agreements on SAA, including aircraft leases and evergreen contracts.

Broadly, it says government oversight of public enterprises should be “streamlined” in order for the government to respond “more rapidly and rigorously” when problems arise.

“Appropriate forms of partnership with private companies, investors and workers will be considered where it will enable the public enterprises better to fulfil their developmental role,” the ANC adds.

Government support is needed to maintain the capabilities of the public enterprises, it states, but this must be contingent on their acting more efficiently.

Such support, it says, “cannot be a blank cheque” that allows continuation of wasteful, inefficient and – in some cases – corrupt practices.