While we welcome the long awaited announcement of a new SAA Board, we express our concern about the retention of Ms Dudu Myeni as the Chairperson of SAA. We hope and trust the new board will go a long way in rectifying the extremely poor performance of SAA, and turn it around into the profitable organisation it once was, but with Ms Myeni as the Chair we expect challenges to abound.
“We believe that profitability is only possible with the appointment of suitably talented executive directors to achieve the professional and competitive outputs required of SAA,” says Wayne Duvenage, OUTA’s Chairperson. “Sadly, the past board has succeeded in purging the airline of excellent senior managers and the current board will have to work hard to restore the public’s confidence in this brand.”
We call on the new board to apply their minds to the reappointment of several senior managers such as Ms Thuli Mpshe, Cynthia Stimpel and Sylvain Bosc, all of whom were suspended for standing their ground against the questionable conduct of the previous board and senior management. Mr Bosc was recently cleared of all charges against him. We believe that Ms Mpshe and Stimpel will also be cleared of the charges against them. Even if the new board does not reappoint these people, and others such as Wolf Meyer and Nico Bezuidenhout who also recently left under duress, they would be wise to interview them in order to gain insight into the questionable conduct of the past.
OUTA hopes the new board will also dig deep to uncover corruption and maladministration which has plagued the airline over recent years, and still does so today. “A thorough review of many contracts should be undertaken and note should be taken of the findings from the 2015 Ernst & Young audit, which will go a long way to shining some light on this scourge within the airline,” says Ivan Herselman, OUTA’s Director of Legal Affairs. “The influencing of contract appointments which are not in the best interest of the airline, is an extremely serious matter and those found guilty of such behaviour, should be held accountable, with the necessary corrective action applied.”
The announcement of a new board does not change OUTA’s current investigation into the serious transgressions and other management issues at SAA. We will continue with our investigations, and call on the new SAA board to equally use all avenues and powers available to them, to root out corruption and maladministration within the airline.
The fact that Ms Myeni remains in the Chair is of serious concern. A number of significant and questionable actions combined with loss making performances have taken place under Myeni’s watch, which has cost the taxpayer several billion of rands in bailouts over recent years. Accordingly, the airline is currently facing huge pressure from various institutions to release financial reports to provide grounds of its solvency.
“We believe Myeni should be held accountable and largely responsible for the poor governance and performance issues that have transpired at SAA over the past few years. It is a pity that Government did not seize this opportunity to remove her from the board. In the words of the late Tyree Scott, well known US labour and civil rights activist: ‘You can’t leave people who were part of the problem in charge of trying to find the solution’,” says Duvenage.