More scandal for SAA

2014-05-20 00:00

A CONFIDENTIAL report containing allegations of large scale irregularities at the South African Airways (SAA) is threatening the beleaguered national airline with another scandal.

The internal report alleges, among other things, that the airline’s acting head Monwabisi Kalawe did not inform the SAA board about his alleged attempt to buy shares on behalf of SAA in the struggling Senegal Airways.

The report’s content was yesterday confirmed by an SAA board member.

“The executive head had been asked on several occasions to answer the allegations made against him, but he blatantly ignores such requests,” said the board member, who wanted to remain anonymous.

SAA chairperson Duduzile Myeni yesterday admitted she is concerned about “events inside the organisation” and that Yakhe Kwinana, who chairs the airline’s auditing committee, has information that shows irregularities inside the SAA’s management.

“I will talk about it when the time is right,” Myeni said.

She referred media queries to the SAA spokesperson.

In the report, it is alleged that:

• Kalawe negotiated for five months without the knowledge or approval of his board to buy shares in Senegal Airlines, which is described as “insolvent”. The board found out about the negotiations for the first time when Business Day reported in Jan­uary that “the Senegal government” had approached SAA to buy a 30% stake in Senegal’s airline.

The report states the shares would not, however, be bought from the Senegal government, but from a private investor. This report warns this is a potential scandal that could bring dis­honour to SAA.

• Kalawe knew the public paid for a bag-wrapping service that was not being rendered. He allegedly personally approved the “service”.

Sister paper City Press revealed the wrapping scandal in February and the SAA board ordered the internal audit department to investigate the issue, but according to the report the step was not sufficient as the staff in this department cannot investigate their superiors properly.

• SAA management had extended a R10 billion contract for fuel without the board’s knowledge or approval when the contract expired in February.

• The SAA’s budget deficit for the coming financial book year will amount to about R4 billion and a continued lack of government assistance will ground the airline. Yet the SAA management is not addressing the looming crisis during its meetings.

• Kalawe had been refusing for several months to submit to the required performance appraisal. He was required to be appraised six months after his appointment in January, but he told the SAA chairperson his “diary was full”.

He was given a second chance on March 28, but cancelled the appointment.

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