There was a breakdown in good governance under Gigaba, inquiry hears

State-owned airline SAA carried 6.9 million passengers in the year ending March 2016.
State-owned airline SAA carried 6.9 million passengers in the year ending March 2016.

A former CEO of South African Airways told the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture on Wednesday that she felt a breakdown in good governance between the airline and the Public Enterprises ministry when Malusi Gigaba took over as minister.

Sizakele Mzimela was the CEO of the national flag carrier between 2010 and 2012.

The inquiry, which has been investigating allegations of state capture, corruption and fraud at state entities since August 2018, is currently focusing its attention on the airline industry.

In her testimony, Mzimela told Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that when she started her tenure in 2010, Barbara Hogan was Minister of Public Enterprises. She said Hogan kept her communication with SAA formal and maintained a practice of good governance.

“What I found when I look at differences, is that Ms Barbara Hogan or the individuals under the ministry during Ms Barbara Hogan would ensure that any communication with the organisation was formal written communication in all instances. So, I would say that was managed quite well.”

She said they also knew who the individuals were who interacted with the airline and that there were "very clear levels of communication and transparency".

"Not just anybody could come into the organisation and request information," she said.

But, said Mzimela, this was not the case when Gigaba came into office at the end of 2010 and these practices started to fall through the cracks. 

The informal culture of communication between the ministry and SAA formed the basis of this breakdown, Mzimela said.

“Things were beginning to fall through the cracks in terms of the management of information, the management of requests ... coming through members of the ministry who in the past really had no relationship with the organisation, which for me was a breakdown in good governance.”

Mzimela's testimony is ongoing.

It is suspected she will speak on SAA contracts for jet fuel – one of the biggest expenses in the SAA budget.

The commission has been investigating SAA and SA Express this week.

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