DA wants controversial SAA chair suspended

BY CHARL BOSCH - JULY 27, 2015

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called for the immediate suspension of South African Airways (SAA) Chairperson, Dudu Myeni, after the struggling state-owned parastatal’s Chief Strategy Officer, Barry Parsons, tendered in his resignation on Friday, citing the running of the airline’s board as dysfunctional.

“Unfortunately, I have lost all confidence in the board to lead and progress the business, and when I look at the 2015 corporate plan and the priorities the board seem to have, since the plan was submitted on 30 April 2014, I cannot reconcile the two,” Parsons said in a letter reportedly addressed to the airline’s Acting CEO, Nico Bezuidenhout.

“There are good people at SAA but unfortunately there are others who are not [diligent] and that has compromised the board's integrity and rendered it dysfunctional”.

Speaking in a statement, party Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises, Natasha Mazzone, said Myeni, who is also the Chairperson of the Jacob G Zuma Foundation, had been causing in-fighting between board members since her appointment last year, before listing a number of points which should warrant her suspension by Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.

These include “selling face time with President Zuma through her private consulting company, Dudu Myeni Consulting, striking off a R2-billion deal with Emirates Airlines which Bezuindenhout later claimed was intentional and telling him, as well as Chief Financial Officer Wolf Meyer, that she had no trust in them during a guarded board meeting where members had their bags searched.

“It is clear that Myeni is running a tight political agenda from the SAA boardroom. Like her close comrade Jacob Zuma, Myeni will flout the rules wherever she deems it necessary,” Mazzone said.

“The existence of this overwhelming evidence and the increasing levels of mistrust with SAA places the onus on Minister Nene to act now and immediately suspend Myeni in order to restore some sense of formality before the airline is forced to shut its doors”.

She also stated that Nene’s failure to act against Myeni would leave no doubt that “cadre deployment at the highest level”, rates as more important than ensuring the national carrier remains airborne.

“If he fails to suspend Myeni and launch an investigation, we will be left with no option but to believe that the political interference at SAA has reached the point of no return,” Mazzone said.