“You’re not fired” – SAA, Treasury deny Myeni exit rumours

By Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – South African Airways (SAA) and National Treasury said no board meeting occurred on Tuesday and that chairperson Dudu Myeni was not fired.

This follows a report in the Citizen that quoted a statement by small political party Black First Land First (BLF), which attacked Gordhan for being tasked with privatising state-owned entities in the interest of so-called “white monopoly capital”.

Duduzile Myeni, chairwoman of South African Airways (SAA), speaks during a visit to the company’s offices by South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Friday, May 6, 2016. It appears to be just a matter of time before South Africas credit rating is cut to junk. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

The BLF, led by former EFF MP Andile Mngxitama, sent media houses – including News24 – a whatsapp message on Tuesday claiming Gordhan was to fire Myeni at a board meeting on the day for the above objective.

In its report, The Citizen said it phoned Treasury for comment, and said they “initially appeared willing to speak ‘after they came out of a board meeting’. They would not say if it was the same board meeting the BLF was referring to.”

However, Treasury spokesperson Yolisa Tyantsi said on Tuesday Treasury “rejects as mischievous reports on Citizen suggesting that it spoke to it regarding the SAA matter”.

“Treasury received an enquiry alleging that the said firing will be done at an SAA board meeting where the minister was in attendance,” she said.

“In response, National Treasury indicated that it was not even aware about the board meeting and that the minister is within the department attending to budget issues.”

Pravin Gordhan

The Citizen later updated its story, with Tyantsi’s response. “Tyantsi said that they had never indicated to The Citizen that there was any board meeting happening at SAA or Treasury. She said that there was categorically no board meeting planned and no such meeting had taken place,” it reported.

She urged the Citizen to “further interrogate the BLF as to its sources, which she said were not accurate”.

SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said on Tuesday there was no board meeting and had not received any communication from Treasury regarding Myeni.

“We have taken note of the media reports quoting unnamed sources on what the minister may decide about the future of the chairperson of the board,” he said.

“We have been in liaison with National Treasury and no such information has been communicated,” he said. “There is no board meeting scheduled for today.”

The allegation that Gordhan had fired Myeni was shared numerous times on Twitter, a week before Gordhan is set to deliver the Budget speech.

Media “noise” regarding Gordhan is escalating at a time when the minister is under pressure to deliver a budget that somehow balances the country’s fiscus to avoid a ratings downgrade and Zuma’s plans for radical economic transformation.

All this while he faces off in court battles with the BLF (which wants him to comply with the Ciex recommendations over Bankorp), and the Guptas (which Gordhan is seeking court protection from regarding intervening in their bank blacklisting).

What makes BLF’s claims about Gordhan firing Myeni confusing is that Gordhan has been tasked with determining her fate after the SAA board left the prickly matter to him.

Cartoon courtesy of Twitter @PaulieCartoons

“Myeni’s conduct as a director is being scrutinised by the treasury’s legal department after she was slapped with a compliance notice by the enforcement arm of the registrar of companies, the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC),” Mail & Guardian reported on Friday.

“The CIPC found that she had violated sections of the Companies Act when she failed to produce a board resolution that would prove that she had not lied to former public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba.”

SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali told Fin24 on Tuesday that the board was aware of the matter, but had left it to Gordhan to decide.

“It is a prerogative of the shareholder to make a final call on the fitness or otherwise of any board member to continue to serve on the board,” he said.

Tlali said the board was new (it was appointed in September) and its members were focusing on their fiduciary duties and turning around the airline. – Fin24


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