Zondo report confirms that Dudu Myeni was delinquent and a corrupt, negligent and incompetent SAA chairperson
Will the hundreds of millions of rand that Dudu Myeni cost South African Airways ever be recovered?
Will Myeni be held to account for these losses?
How will the brave whistleblowers and employees who stood up against Myeni and lost their jobs, livelihoods and careers ever be compensated?
And will SAA ever get off the ground again, after its financial collapse despite billions of rand in taxpayer-funded bailouts?
The State Capture Commission report is damning on Myeni’s role in the destruction of SAA.
Much of this was known for several years now. The fact that she got away with this for so long is an example of how accountability has failed society at every level of government, while friends of ex-President Zuma benefited handsomely for their various roles played in the looting.
Although there was no evidence that Myeni received any kickbacks or unlawful funds from the SAA coffers, it should be kept in mind that through her actions, such as the unlawful appointment of Nick Linnell as her advisor and her failure to sign off on the Airbus delivery, along with the 30% set aside policy she introduced, SAA lost millions of rand and this contributed to significant bailouts to SAA by National Treasury.
In the State Capture Commission report, Deputy Chief Justice Zondo described in detail how Myeni was complicit in the airline’s demise, whilst chairing the SAA board. He notes that Myeni went from being an under-performing member of the previous board to acting chair and later the chair of the SAA board of directors. “She proceeded, through a mixture of negligence, incompetence and deliberate corrupt intent, to dismantle governance procedures at SAA, create a climate of fear and intimidation and make a series of operational choices at SAA that saw it decline into a shambolic state,” said the report.
The report quoted from the judgment of Judge Ronel Tolmay in OUTA’s successful delinquency application to confirm how Myeni’s actions lead to SAA losing out on a profitable code share agreement and how her omission to finalise the Airbus swap transaction seriously threatened to cause the airline to default on its financial obligations and how this would have had a ripple effect across the economy as a whole.
The Tolmay judgment was a scathing report of Myeni’s conduct, but the Zondo report goes even further, describing in detail how Myeni’s conduct crippled the airline and how she used her position to incite fear among the SAA employees.
Through the testimonies of several ex-SAA employees like Tuli Mpshe, Dr Masimba Dahwa, Cynthia Stimpel and even Phumeza Nhantsi, the Commission heard how Myeni had no respect for procurement procedures, policies and the prescripts of the Public Finance Management Act. Evidence showed how Myeni was not moved by instructions from ministers, National Treasury or the Department of Public Enterprises. Her actions not only led to several employees losing their jobs, but also to irregular and wasteful expenditure of hundreds of millions of rand in taxpayers’ money.
Evidence was presented of how Myeni together with fellow board member Yakhe Kwinana would visit internet cafes where Myeni would formulate anonymous and fictitious whistleblower reports to SAA, in order to victimise staff and to suspend or remove executive managers who opposed her or questioned her agendas and actions.
It took OUTA and the SAA Pilots’ Association more than three years to win the court case which declared Myeni a delinquent director for life, a case that was launched while Myeni was still the SAA chair. Other board members who were implicated were not included in this action due to the costs involved, and now they may escape similar delinquency declarations due to a legal time bar.
OUTA welcomes the Zondo report recommendation that the time to lodge a delinquency application in terms of the Companies Act should be extended beyond the current 24 months from the end of the directorship, and calls on the legislature to expedite amending the current act accordingly.
The Zondo report vindicates the SAA whistleblowers and the OUTA-SAAPA delinquency action against Myeni.
The Zondo report confirms without any doubt that Duduzile Cynthia Myeni was SAA’s wrecking ball and that she is still not prepared to acknowledge any wrongdoing at SAA, nor is she prepared to take responsibility for the lives and livelihoods that she wrecked, or to take responsibility for the hundreds of millions of rand that she wasted. Myeni still believes that she is untouchable and protected and OUTA believe the evidence from the State Capture Commission’s report will change that.
OUTA fully supports the recommendations of DCJ Zondo that the NPA must investigate whether Myeni should be prosecuted for fraud and corruption.
A soundclip with comment by OUTA's Rudie Heyneke is here.