South African Airways Loses Chairwoman, Board in Dispute

South African Airways, Africa's biggest airline, had its chairwoman and six other board members resign because of a disagreement with the government.

Directors of the state-owned carrier had a breakdown in the relationship with its shareholder, represented by the Minister of Public Enterprises Malusi Gigaba, ahead of the planned release of its financial results this week, former Chairwoman Cheryl Carolus said in an interview with Johannesburg’s SAFM radio station today. The release of the company’s annual report was delayed by Gigaba.

Carolus said the board submitted Johannesburg-based SAA’s financial statements to the ministry on time and was awaiting confirmation of one outstanding issue relating to the “unpredictability” of the oil price. The board had to get a credit facility from a commercial bank or ask National Treasury for a guarantee. Gigaba has previously said he is seeking financial assistance from the National Treasury for SAA.

“It is something I am very sad about,” Carolus said. “I love the airline and I respect it,” she said. The board members couldn’t stand by “like battered women” while the ministry didn’t defend them.

Mayihlome Tshwete, spokesman for the minister, said in an interview with SAFM that there was “constant communication” from the minister to the board surrounding the postponement of the release.

Richard Mantu, a spokesman for Gigaba, declined to comment when called by Bloomberg. Prior to the resignations the board had 14 members, according to Johannesburg’s Business Day newspaper.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jaco Visser in Johannesburg at avisser3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at jviljoen@bloomberg.net

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