SAA's Ngqula decision welcomed
Johannesburg - The SA Airways (SAA) board's decision to institute action against its former CEO Khaya Ngqula was welcomed by the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the Democratic Alliance on Tuesday.
"This is a great victory for the SA Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) whose members first blew the whistle on the CEO," Cosatu said in a statement.
This followed the announcement earlier by SAA that a summons was in the process of being served on Ngqula for unauthorised bonuses for executives of R27m.
The board would also seek to recover R3.3m that Ngqula had allegedly spent on hiring hospitality suites in various sports stadiums and at least
R500 000 for free trips that Ngqula had allegedly granted to personal friends.
The total amount the board sought to recover from Ngqula was R30.8m.
Cosatu said that when Ngqula was sacked in March 2009, Satawu had rightly claimed this as a victory. "Cosatu congratulates its affiliate and sends out a warning to any other executives that the trade unions will now be even more determined to follow Satawu's example and to blow the whistle of such examples of crass materialism and theft from a state-owned asset."
The SAA board's decision to institute civil action against Ngqula arose from the findings of a forensic audit by KPMG.
The Democratic Alliance also welcomed the SAA board's decision.
"This represents a welcome departure from the general lack of responsibility that has come to define the other heads of state-owned entities (SOEs) responsible for financial mismanagement," said DA shadow minister of public enterprises Manie van Dyk in a statement.
He hoped the boards of other SOEs would take a leaf out of SAA's book and pursue former CEOs implicated in wasting public funds.
"The decision to pursue Ngqula follows repeated calls by the DA for a thorough forensic investigation to be instituted at SAA following Ngqula's implication in tender rigging to the tune of R1bn, and his subsequent dismissal in 2009.
"It is still a matter of astonishment that he was paid a R13m settlement despite being under investigation for mismanagement, conflict of interest and procurement irregularities."
Van Dyk said that SAA's institution of action against Ngqula should become standard practice in South Africa.
The Freedom Front Plus said it had been noticeable that during Ngqula's term as CEO, public funds were dished out royally, while at the same time SAA suffered a net loss of nearly R2bn.
"The attempt to, in total, regain R30.8m is actually only a drop in the ocean, but CEOs of public enterprises will get the message that they will be held personally accountable," said FF Plus chief spokesperson on public enterprises Pieter Groenewald.