Delay of SAA financials 'ploy to protect Dudu Myeni'

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

Cape Town - The delay by the board of South African Airways (SAA) in presenting the ailing parastatal's annual financial statements may be a ploy to help President Jacob Zuma keep his close friend Dudu Myeni on the SAA board, according to an opposition politician.

Democratic Alliance spokesperson for finance Alf Lees said in a statement on Monday that Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba "seems to have been mischievous" when he told Parliament's standing committee on finance (SCOF) in his letter of September 20 2017 that it was not foreseeable that SAA's annual results would not be ready in time for an annual general meeting before August 31 2017.

"It was completely foreseeable, given that SAA is clearly not a 'going concern' and that Gigaba himself, as well as the SAA board, were likely to do everything in their power to delay the finalisation of the annual financial statements until they are able to secure funding from the national revenue fund," said Lees.

This would be by means of section 16 of the Public Finance Management Act, the Public Investment Corporation or "some other illogical source to enable SAA to be assumed to be a 'going concern' for another year", said Lees.

He said the DA has sent a written request to Gigaba to urgently provide reasons as to why SAA's annual financial statements are not ready, as is required by law, adding that by failing to have these statements ready by the stipulated time, SAA is now in breach of the Companies Act.

Myeni was supposed to complete her third term as chairperson at the end of August, but Treasury said she can only be replaced at the airline’s AGM, which can only occur in November due to the delay in the publishing of its annual financial results.

Myeni allegedly stated that she would only go when “ubaba” – a reference to Zuma – leaves office.

Gigaba has told SCOF that Myeni’s extended contract is legal. This comes after the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission said her extended tenure in September was illegal, according to its laws.

“The minister argues that it is legal to extend Ms Myeni’s term on the basis of Section 13.4.6 of the SAA Memorandum of Incorporation, which he says is in line with the Companies Act,” SCOF chair Yunus Carrim said in a statement last week.

International rating agencies are keeping a close watch on how Gigaba handles the SAA crisis, said Lees. He added Gigaba's reluctance to act decisively to put SAA into business rescue and on the road to either privatisation or liquidation will very likely have a negative effect on the 9.3 million unemployed South Africans.

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