Nenegate revisited: SAA chair Myeni’s R256m rent extraction plan exposed

The wonderful thing about being in the journalistic business is that although many developments are designed to confuse, eventually everything does make sense. It just takes time for the truth to become fully exposed. All we need is patience and pieces do fall into place in the virtual jigsaw puzzles. The seismic scale of Nenegate told us this wasn’t the kind of shock that happened overnight. Most South Africans suspected it to be the result of some very deliberate levers being pulled in high places. Among them was a crude rent extraction attempt by the chairman of President Jacob Zuma’s personal “foundation” who’d been installed as head of South African Airways. In two years, this former secondary school teacher replaced seven CEOs. Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene tried to end the madness and, as a consequence, was replaced overnight by a pliable imbongi. The markets intervened and the idiocy was addressed, but at huge cost. Slowly, hard facts have been emerging around the mysterious interloper called Quartile Capital which was set to earn R256m for simply being black owned. And the truth is being exposed about the disgusting abuse of power and public resources by SAA’s chair Dudu Myeni whose involvement triggered the mess. Myeni is not the mother of Jacob Zuma’s love child according to an official statement by the Presidency. But this insanity has all the qualities of an extremely powerful, potentially mind-altering honey trap. Indeed, even though new Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has committed to replace SAA’s board of directors, Myeni and her empire remain gloriously intact. Surely South Africa deserves better? – Alec Hogg

Chairman of the Jacob Zuma Foundation Dudu Myeni - real life example of the way "entrepreneurial politicians" pull State levers of power for personal benefit.
Chairman of the Jacob Zuma Foundation Dudu Myeni – real life example of the way “entrepreneurial politicians” pull State levers of power for personal benefit.

JOHANNESBURG, July 7 (Reuters) – South Africa’s state airline ignored procurement procedure when it awarded a contract to restructure $1 billion of debt to a little-known financier, the Business Day newspaper reported on Thursday.

The South African Airways (SAA) board went against the advice of its own treasury by agreeing to pay boutique financier BnP Capital a 256 million rand ($17.4 million) success fee without putting the contract out to tender, according to the newspaper.

The fee is at least three times more than what the airline would have paid if it had put the contact on open tender, the newspaper said.

The cash-strapped carrier is under National Treasury oversight and has until now failed to publish its 2014-15 financial results despite numerous extensions, while relying on state guarantees of 14.4 billion rand to keep it afloat.

SAA’s financial woes were at the centre of a political storm in December when President Jacob Zuma axed finance minister Nhlanhla Nene.

Citing a confidential memo seen by its reporters, the newspaper said SAA had chosen to ignore procurement processes because of urgent loan repayments due at the end of June.

SAA did not immediately repsond to an emailed request for comment.