D-Day for Dudu Myeni as Gigaba to meet SAA board

SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni. (File photo: Gallo Images)
SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni. (File photo: Gallo Images)

Cape Town – Friday will be South African Airways (SAA) chairperson Dudu Myeni’s last day in the pilot’s seat of the national carrier, as Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba meets the board to make effective the board changes announced on October 19.

However, while many media outlets have reported that the annual general meeting (AGM) will also take place on Friday, this is not the case.

SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali told Fin24 on Thursday: “There is no AGM on Friday. A date will be announced when it has been determined.”

Treasury spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete confirmed this. National Treasury is SAA’s only shareholder as government’s representative of the state-owned company.

“The AGM needs its financial results, which are not yet ready,” Tshwete told Fin24 on Thursday. “We anticipate that there is a high probability the meeting will be held early next year.

“The special meeting that was announced by National Treasury on October 19 to be held with the SAA board will go ahead as scheduled on Friday."

New chair to take over

On October 19, Treasury announced that Johannes Magwaza would take over the role as chairperson. Other board members – one with aviation experience – were also announced.

“The changes will be effective from 3 November 2017, when the minister will have a special meeting with the new board,” the Finance ministry said in a statement on October 19.

Myeni has come under scathing criticism for running the airline into the ground and leading a poorly governed board.     

Her extended term in October was deemed illegal by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, as the airline was due to have its AGM at the end of September 2017.

She had vowed to only leave SAA when “ubaba goes”, a reference to her close friend, President Jacob Zuma.

Meanwhile, The New Age and ANN7 (previously owned by the Guptas and now by Mzwanele Manyi) are promoting exclusives with Myeni on Friday, in which she "exposes the rot at SAA" and "dishes out the dirt on Pravin Gordhan".

"Pravin Gordhan tried to sabotage me," reads one placard on Twitter. The New Age and ANN7 have been accused of waging a propaganda war on behalf of the Zuma faction within the ANC.

SAA's poor run

SAA, which is expected to make a loss of over R2bn in 2017 and has battled to pay its debts and its suppliers, required a bailout from Treasury to keep it a going concern.

“I am pleased that a new board comprised of people with good reputations will at last be able to work without being subject to the leadership of Dudu Myeni,” Democratic Alliance MP Alf Lees told Fin24 on Thursday.

“All political interference must also stop and new CEO Vuyani Jarana must be freed to run SAA on a free market profitable basis.”

In his mini budget last week, Gigaba revealed that government had issued a R19.1bn guarantee facility to SAA to ensure the company continues to operate as a going concern.

Total recapitalisation of R10bn would be provided in 2017/18. An amount of R5.2bn had already been provided, and the remaining R4.8bn will be transferred by March 31, 2018.

Gigaba also revealed last week that the plan to consolidate SAA and SA Express and to find an equity partner is under way.

"After we meet the board of SAA, we will pronounce on our plans to consolidate aviation assets and bring in a strategic equity partner," he said.

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