Johannesburg - Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba appointed new SA Airways (SAA) board members on Friday after the chairwoman and six other members quit this week.
"I was impelled by the best interest of the company and took into account, amongst other things, the state of the airline, the dynamics of the aviation sector and the need to redirect the airline to a path of sustained profitability," Gigaba said in a statement.
The new members are Vuyisile Kona, Andile Mabizela, Andile Khumalo, Bongisizwe Mpondo, Dr Rajesh Naithani, Carol Roskruge, Raisibe Lepule and Nonhlanhla Kubeka.
Kona has been appointed as the new chairperson.
Gigaba said the new board members had the skills and expertise for their new positions at SAA.
"I have no doubt that they have the capacity to assist government in propelling the airline to greater heights," Gigaba said.
His spokesperson, Mayihlome Tshwete, said earlier on Friday that the new board members would only be announced at SAA's annual general meeting in two weeks' time.
Tshwete said the decision to announce the new board members was made by Gigaba in the interest of the company.
"The minister felt this would give the company more stability," Gigaba said.
SAA chairperson Cheryl Carolus and six board members resigned on Thursday.
Carolus was quoted as saying: "The board has just become untenable, our reputation and professional integrity had just been dragged through the mud without any clarification or support, and I believe this had reached a point where the relationship has been broken irretrievably."
Of SAA's 14-member board, eight have resigned so far. The board members who told Carolus they were leaving with her are Bonang Mohale, David Lewis, Jabulani Ndlovu, Louis Rabbets, Margaret Whitehouse and Teddy Daka.
Business Day on Friday reported that former Johannesburg Stock Exchange chief executive Russell Loubser was the first to resign.
Tshwete said the board members who resigned would have finished their terms in October and were not going to be re-appointed.
The new board members had already been selected by Gigaba and approved by Cabinet in a meeting held on September 19.
They would be announced in two weeks' time at the annual general meeting.
"What we were going to do in two weeks, we had to push forward and do now," Tshwete said.
He told Sapa earlier that Gigaba learned of the resignations through the media.
Tshwete said the resignations were not "the biggest concern" Gigaba had about SAA, and the minister was focused on restoring the state airline to financial health.
The spokesperson accused the resigning board members of creating a distraction from this.
"I think that's what they were trying to create, its a side-show that has now become a talking point of SAA, when the talking point should be about how we can return the company to public health," Tshwete said.
Acting chairperson of Parliament's public enterprises portfolio committee Gerhard Koornhof said he was "deeply concerned" about the resignations.
"The board members and management of the parastatal need to find mechanisms to deal with the challenges that the airline is facing and find solutions," Koornhof said in a statement.
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