The crisis at SAA has reached a “tipping point” that was threatening its survival, hence the application to have chairperson Dudu Myeni declared a delinquent director, according to SAA Pilots’ Association (Saapa) chair Jimmy Conroy.
Saapa, together with the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) have filed court papers as part of a campaign to declare SAA chairperson Duduzile Myeni a delinquent director.
Myeni is also chairperson of the President Jacob Zuma Foundation and the Mhlathuze Water Authority Board. She was appointed acting SAA chairperson in September 2012 before the position became permanent in June 2013.
Saapa – which represents 737 out of 740 SAA pilots – this week filed 63 pages of court papers in the Pretoria High Court.
Outa chairperson Wayne Duvenage said the case against Myeni is “setting a precedent”.
“We would have liked to have lodged this in December ... this is a thorough and complicated matter,” he said.
The four parties Saapa and Outa cite in their court papers as four defendants are Myeni, SAA, state-owned company Air Chefs and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Yolisa Tyantsi, a National Treasury spokesperson, said Gordhan and Treasury couldn’t comment on the matter as it is before the court.
SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said SAA was served with the court papers on Thursday morning and the airline wouldn’t comment on them as it is a legal matter.
Conroy said his organisation has taken a formal decision to commence legal proceedings to have Myeni declared a delinquent director.
“This is the first time that this action has been brought against the chairperson of a state-owned company in South Africa,” he said.
“Our national carrier is quickly reaching the tipping point where its very survival is in question. We believe this is a direct result of the accumulation of poor governance, political interference and a dearth of expertise and strategic vision – a delinquency of the highest order,” Conroy said.
The Federation of Unions of SA said it fully supports Saapa's decision to have Myeni declared a delinquent director.
Ben Theron, Outa portfolio director of transport, said SAA has lost R10.6bn over a five-year period despite being profitable between 2010 and 2012, prior to Myeni’s arrival.
The losses were “not only due to incompetence or negligence”, but “compounded by misconduct by the board, including and led by Ms Myeni”, Theron said.
Theron added that Outa instituted the legal action against Myeni based on six counts:
. The alleged illegal appointment of BnP Capital as transaction adviser.
. Allegedly illegally extending BnP Capital’s mandate to include source of funds of R15bn.
. Allegedly attempting to pay a cancellation fee of R49.9m to BnP Capital.
. Allegedly illegally interfering with a board-approved Emirates deal.
. Allegedly misrepresenting the board by informing Gordhan that the board had approved two Airbus aircraft and not 10.
. Allegedly ignoring the findings of an Ernst & Young report, despite damning findings requiring urgent action.