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President Jacob Zuma demonstrated, yet again, that he is impervious to criticism that he has given his friends and allies top jobs in government and across state entities – instead of the best people – when he defended Dudu Myeni’s position at SAA. Myeni, a former teacher, is not suited to running the national airline. Her own record is evidence of her incompetence: on her watch, SAA has recorded billions of rands of losses. One of the reasons Zuma undoubtedly remains powerful amid explosive, wide-ranging allegations of corruption and state capture is because he stays loyal to those who have his back. We know from Vytjie Mentor, a former ANC MP, that SAA is of special interest to the rich Indian Gupta family at the centre of state capture allegations. Mentor filed a report to the Public Prosecutor’s office stating that she was offered the job of minister of public enterprises – by the Gupta family – on condition she cancel the SAA route to India. Mentor turned that offer down, instead blowing the whistle on Zuma. She is now fighting in court for the full details to be made public. But Myeni is one of Zuma’s close associates, trusted enough to be appointed executive chairperson of the Jacob G Zuma Foundation. Apparently Myeni is so close to Zuma that some regard her as part of his big family. Although Zuma implied that SAA’s woes preceded Myeni, it’s not credible that Myeni has her job for any reason other than her special relationship with Zuma. – Jackie Cameron
By Liesl Peyper
Cape Town – President Jacob Zuma reiterated on Tuesday that the reappointment of SAA chair Dudu Myeni was “approved by cabinet, which had considered all the relevant options”.
He was responding to a question from the DA, posed to him in the National Council of Provinces, about the reasons for Myeni’s staying on as chairperson for another year, since National Treasury had purportedly not supported her reappointment to the position.
Under Myeni’s watch, SAA made a R5.6bn loss in the 2014/15 financial year and the national carrier saw an exodus of a substantial number of executives, who had either resigned, or had been forced to resign, following suspensions.
Zuma said on Tuesday that SAA is being assisted by National Treasury to stabilise its financial position.
“Government is optimistic that the new board will achieve the turnaround that the company needs.”
On a follow-up question about whether selling the entire national carrier to the private sector, Zuma said: “I’m not looking at selling SAA. It must come back, be viable and work”.
He added that SAA has been in trouble “all the time – not only today”. “If the Honourable Member pays attention he would remember that at one stage we imported an American to turn SAA around,” Zuma said referring to Coleman Andrews who had been CEO from May 1998 until April 2001.
During his tenure Andrews earned a remuneration package of more than R220m.
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