Johannesburg - Given the mess that South African Airways (SAA) has become under the “rule” of Dudu Myeni, the former chair of the national carrier must rank as the most unsuitable person to appoint as an aviation adviser.
This was the reaction from Democratic Alliance MP Alf Lees to a Sunday Times report that the embattled former SAA chair has scored a top position as adviser to the transport mMinister.
The newspaper reported that the controversial appointment comes as the government considers moving SAA from National Treasury to the Department of Transport. The new position could see Myeni net more than R1m a year, according to the report.
Myeni told Fin24 via WhatsApp to direct all questions formally to the minister of transport. "I have no comment," she said. She was in church at the time.
Lees, in an emailed response to Fin24, lambasted the move saying the DA finds it incomprehensible that the hard-won steps towards saving SAA can be so foolishly undermined by proposals to move SAA from the Ministry of Finance to Transport, "a ministry that has so fouled up the e-toll saga".
“The removal of Dudu Myeni from the SAA board, the appointment of a new board including an aviation expert and most importantly the appointment of experienced executives like Vuyani Jarana and Peter Davies was the start of a process to attempt to save SAA and the majority of the 10 000 plus jobs.
“This will all come to naught if the airline is once again treated as a cadre enrichment vehicle and moved back under the influence of Myeni,” Lees said.
The surprise appointment comes as the country’s top banks are considering recalling up to R8bn owed to them by the cash-strapped airline.
In October Myeni was replaced as SAA chair by businessman Johannes Bhekumuzi "JB" Magwaza, the founder and executive chairperson of Nkunzi Investment Holdings.
City Press had previously reported that three senior SAA executives, and another source close to the board, said that Myeni had informed those in her close circle at the beleaguered airline that she would not step down until President Jacob Zuma finished his second term of office in 2019.
This was when banks and other financiers were pulling the plug on loans they gave to SAA, citing her continued presence on the airline’s board as one of the reasons.
SAA told Parliament's standing committee on finance that although its revenue has improved in the second quarter, the airline's loss for the current financial year is expected to end up being more than R4bn.
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