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You would think that South Africa’s cabinet would not need to be persuaded that Dudu Myeni, the former primary school teacher who has led SAA towards deep financial trouble, is the wrong candidate for the airline’s top job. But, in the face of outstanding evidence that she does not have the business acumen or leadership skills to get SAA back on track, she has been appointed yet again to chair the state organisation. The Presidency insisted in 2015 that Zuma’s relationship with Myeni is purely professional, but her continued leadership role is inexplicable – if appointments are made on the basis of choosing the best person for the job. Myeni is undoubtedly the wrong person to steer SAA back to success. Yet, opposition politicians are finding themselves having to explain the obvious to the ANC’s leadership: while Myeni has been in the job, losses have steadily built up to the point that SAA teeters on the brink of collapse. In addition, Myeni has a history of poor financial management. This includes in her personal capacity as she has a bad credit record, alleges the DA. In the face of a lack of reason, the next step, says the DA, is a court challenge to her appointment. – Jackie Cameron
By Arabile Gumede
Cape Town – Reappointed chair of South African Airways (SAA) Dudu Myeni should be removed from the post, the Democratic Alliance (DA) announced Sunday, saying that during her tenure the carrier has lurched among crisis.
The party said it will seek court action to declare that Myeni was an “inappropriate and incapable appointment” to run South Africa Airways. Myeni on Friday was named to another one-year term.
“The announcement by cabinet to re-appoint Ms. Myeni undermines the principle of appointing the brightest and the best to serve the state and its entities,” James Selfe, the DA’s federal executive chairman, said in an e-mailed statement. Under Myeni, SAA has “leapt from man-made crisis to crisis.”
While she has been in the job, SAA failed to publish two consecutive years of financial reports and recorded apparent losses of more than 4 billion rand ($276 million) in each year, according to the party’s statement. The Democratic Alliance said the state company had more than a 1 billion rand loss in the first quarter of the 2017 financial year. Myeni has put the airline at risk of losing lucrative routes, which will reduce revenue, the party said.
SAA most recently reported a full-year profit in 2011, and has had seven acting or permanent chief executives in less than four years. Instability has accelerated in the past year as senior managers departed and it was embroiled in deals ranging from Myeni’s attempts to renege on a leasing contract with Airbus Group SE to the appointment of a little-known financial adviser to source funding on its behalf. Both moves were later reversed.
In addition to Myeni, the government on Friday appointed new non-executive board members to end months of wrangling between the National Treasury and the carrier.
Under Dudu Myeni, SAA failed to publish annual financial statements for 2014/15 & 2015/16 with an apparent loss totalling R9,7 billion.
— Democratic Alliance (@Our_DA) September 5, 2016
The cabinet two weeks ago announced plans for President Jacob Zuma to lead a new panel to oversee all state-owned companies — a role previously delegated to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and other ministers. Last week, money manager Futuregrowth and Denmark’s Jyske Bank AS said they will stop lending to some South African state-owned companies due to concerns about governance at the entities.
Johannesburg-based newspaper Sunday Times reported Myeni wasn’t part of the National Treasury’s 13-man shortlist of preferred candidates for the SAA board. Myeni is a former schoolteacher and also heads Zuma’s charitable foundation. Tladi Tladi, SAA’s spokesman wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Record of financial mismanagement
Cape Town – Dudu Myeni, controversial SAA chairperson who was reappointed in the position on Friday, has a record of financial mismanagement, even from before she was first appointed to the position, the DA revealed.
At a press conference held at parliament on Monday, the party’s federal executive chairperson James Selfe, said Myeni failed to adequately perform her tasks as the chairperson of the Mhlathuze Water Board. Other “shocking elements” of her record included:- a failed probity test, which showed a default judgment against her in relation to R416 460 owed to Absa bank;
– a R1.7m judgment in favour of Standard Bank with regard to a property she reportedly co-owns; and
– a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) probe into alleged maladministration and abuse of state resources, unfair dismissal of staff and non-compliance with tender processes when she was chair of the Mhlatuze Water Board.
“Even before she was appointed to SAA chairperson back in November 2012,” Selfe said, “there were question marks around her fitness for the job.
“Yet she was still appointed in a deliberate act of cadre deployment and nepotism.”
At its press conference, the DA reiterated its intention to file an application to the Western Cape High Court to have the Myeni’s reappointment set aside.
“[Myeni’s] reappointment not only reeks of nepotism and cronyism so common under the administration of President Jacob Zuma,” said Maimane, “but also flies in the face of the need for good governance at state-owned enterprises.”
The DA will specifically focus on the “rationality” aspect of Myeni’s reappointment. The party has won similar court cases, such as that of Former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Menzi Simelane when the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled his appointment was invalid in 2011.
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