South Africa Airways Chairman Is Targeted by Opposition Party

  • SAA has failed to publish financial statements for 2 years
  • Myeni not part of initial shortlist for board: Sunday Times

The reappointed chairman of South Africa’s state airline, Dudu Myeni, should be removed from the post, the opposition Democratic Alliance 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 “lept 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.

Acting Chiefs

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.

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 Future growth 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.