SAA CEO still grounded

2014-11-16 15:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Despite repeated attempts to suspend him, Monwabisi Kalawe is fighting back. A top-level meeting next week could decide his fate

South African Airways chairperson Dudu Myeni had exhumed “old issues” when seeking reasons to suspend CEO Monwabisi Kalawe, his attorney alleged this week.

Mushtak Parker, Kalawe’s attorney, said Myeni had not provided any reasons for his suspension “other than rehashing old issues which had previously been resolved”.

She had been trying to suspend him since his appointment in June last year, he said, but was stopped by former public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba.

Myeni is close to President Jacob Zuma and is the executive chairperson of the Jacob Zuma Foundation.

But Gigaba’s political clout – he was the governing ANC’s head of elections and was third on its list of national candidates behind Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa – is believed to have stopped Myeni from suspending Kalawe before.

Gigaba’s successor, Lynne Brown – 76th on the elections list – has tried to intervene in the boardroom battle at the airline, instructing Myeni to reinstate Kalawe, and was reassured on Monday that the suspension had been “retroactively lifted”.

But Parker said Myeni had lied to Brown because SAA’s lawyers said on Wednesday he was still suspended. “SAA’s lawyers do not admit that she has lied,” said Parker.

Brown finally took decisive action late on Thursday by convening a meeting for early next week to resolve the impasse. The meeting will be attended by Brown’s special adviser, Brendon Roberts; Kalawe; and SAA board members Tony Dixon and John Tambi.

Myeni and another member of the interim board, Yakhe Kwinana – who is widely viewed as Myeni’s ally – are excluded from the meeting.

SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali, on behalf of Myeni, said the matter was subject to due process in line with SAA’s internal governance procedures, and it was too early to comment on these.

Kalawe is the airline’s fifth permanent CEO in 12?years, though a number of acting CEOs have filled the position.

Earlier this month, Myeni took a unilateral decision to block his access to Airways Park, the airline’s headquarters, as well as his office email, but the restrictions were later removed.

Last week, the airline said Mango CEO Nico Bezuidenhout would take over in an acting position while Kalawe was on special leave.

But Parker this week denied his client had taken the leave because “no reasons exist for him to be absent from office”.

He said SAA had offered Kalawe special leave for reasons that were not clear “other than to remove him”.

Brown gave the four board members an explicit mandate to stabilise the lossmaking airline, which has bled more than R5.6?billion since 2001 (see graphic).

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene accompanied Brown to Monday’s meeting. There, the board was instructed to finalise its financial statements, which were withheld earlier this year as the airline could not prove it could continue as a going concern.

The board was also told to appoint turnaround specialists urgently and prepare to hold its AGM before April next year.

Brown’s spokesperson, Colin Cruywagen, said the minister was respecting an agreement reached on Thursday not to make any further public statements on the issue. He said she would not add to a statement she gave earlier on the matter.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.