SAA boss finds himself locked out

SAA chief executive Monwabisi Kalawe’s email and gate access were blocked this week.

He confirmed on Friday that this was the result of a “unilateral decision” by chair Dudu Myeni and the head of the audit risk committee following weeks of boardroom drama, which resulted in the removal of seven board members.

Kalawe said although he was on sick leave on Thursday and Friday, he expected to return to work tomorrow. He confirmed that his email and gate access had been blocked, “but the blocks have now been lifted”.

He said he will report for duty tomorrow and attend meetings and do his job as normal.

“SAA is bigger than me and the board chair. We go to the office to work and I expect us all to do what is right for SAA,” he said.

Reports this week indicated he was being excluded from executive meetings. It was reported on Friday that Myeni had inexplicably not invited Kalawe to a meeting with the executive committee.

Myeni last month survived a purge in the SAA board by Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, which saw seven directors leave and be replaced by two new appointees. The directors who left are understood to have been Kalawe’s supporters.

Myeni had previously tried to get the Auditor-General to investigate Kalawe in relation to acquisitions he made without board approval. These include negotiations to buy Senegal Airlines, which is insolvent.

Other allegations against him include irregularities relating to the purchase of fuel.

Public enterprises spokesperson Colin Cruywagen said on Friday this was not a department matter. He said the minister had a meeting with the SAA board last week and was waiting for a report, but could not interfere in board matters. He said he was aware of reports about what was happening at SAA.

SAA has had a string of CEOs and as many turnaround plans, usually involving expensive consultants. It has also been under huge financial pressure recently. Last year, its losses were more than R1?billion and, like a number of state-owned enterprises, it has been unable to produce its 2014 financials on time.

Brown indicated she would be interested in finding an equity partner for SAA.

SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said on Friday he was attending a meeting on the issue. The meeting was still under way at the time of going to press.

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