It's official: Myeni out in SAA board reshuffle

Cape Town - Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba officially announced on Thursday that Cabinet has approved the appointment of six new board members for South African Airways (SAA), including a new chairperson to replace embattled Dudu Myeni.

Myeni is replaced by Johannes Bhekumuzi Magwaza as the new chairperson, and Nolitha Fakude is the new deputy chairperson and non-executive director, replacing Tryphosa Ramano.

New board members who will serve as non-executive directors are Geoff Rothschild, Ahmed Bassa, Tinyiko Mhlari, and Martin Kingston.

Current non-executive directors who will continue to serve on the board are Bajabulile Swazi Tshabalala, Peter Tshisevhe, Thandeka Nozipho Mogoduso, Peter Holmes Maluleka, and Akhter Hoosen Moosa.

The other board members being replaced are Mzimkulu Malunga, Siphile Buthelezi, Nazmeera Moola, and Gugu Sepamla.

"At the heart of these appointments, is a commitment from the South African government to strengthen the airline, and create conditions to see the transformation of all our state-owned companies," Gigaba said in a statement.

The changes will be effective from November 3 2017, when Gigaba is set to have a special meeting with the new board.

Gigaba said the new board brings talent, expertise and energy to the airline. "They are all highly regarded individuals with a vast and in-depth knowledge of business in both the private and public sectors."

Gigaba said he hoped that the new board, together with incoming CEO Vuyani Jarana, will implement the airline’s structural strategy and bring it to financial stability, as set out in his 14 Confidence Boosting Measures.

He encouraged the new, "well experienced and diverse" board to "ignore the political noise, and focus on the business of strengthening SAA".

The six outgoing board members, as well as those incoming, have been notified of the developments, he said.

Gigaba was under considerable pressure to appoint at least one aviation expert to the SAA board, which has now been achieved with the appointment of Bassa, who works as a director at Aerodromes and Contrails.

National Treasury director general Dondo Mogajane told members of Parliament’s standing committee on finance that SAA’s lenders had been unhappy with Myeni’s tenure at SAA, insisting that she be replaced as one of the conditions for extending their debt maturity dates. 

Democratic Alliance MP Alf Lees responded to the reported removal of Myeni in a statement on Wednesday: "The question remains as to where Malusi Gigaba is going to find the R10bn that is required to meet the R 5.2bn already paid to SAA for loans and working capital as well as the R4.8bn required as working capital to keep the airline trading until the end of the 2017/18 financial year.

"Make no mistake, this reported restructuring of the SAA board and the removal of Myeni is far too little, too late to save the airline. There is no saving SAA."

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