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Speculation behind SAA suspension grows

Feb 12 2013 13:35 James-Brent Styan

SAA plane

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Cape Town -  The board of directors of South African Airways (SAA) was forced to place the airline's acting CEO Vuyisile Kona on precautionary suspension, after he allegedly refused to accept a request from the board that he step down.

Fin24 understands from multiple sources that the SAA board called Kona in on Monday and made the request, following several reports of him overstepping his mandate as acting CEO.

In a statement the board said the suspension is based on “certain allegations that have come to the attention of the board, in respect of which the board has a fiduciary duty to investigate".

"It must be stressed that the board has not come to any conclusion as to the veracity or otherwise of these allegations," the statement reads.

Fin24 understands there was major concern that Kona has not been delivering on the mandate given to him when he took over as acting CEO.

"Since he's been in charge the airline has done worse. They even had to borrow around R970m against their government guarantee in January and February to pay wages and fuel," said one source.

A second source, who does not wish to be named, confirmed that Kona made promises he never delivered on.

"He said, for instance, that he'd cut fuel costs by 30%. That never happened."

Natasha  Michael, DA spokesperson on public enterprises, said it is "terrible" that the airline is rocked by yet another leadership scandal. "Most of the airline's troubles seem linked to strange appointments," said Michael.

The board is in the process of recruiting a permanent CEO. It said applications have been received and are now being evaluated.

"The board is confident that this process will be completed by March 31 2013, at which time recommendations will be presented to the minister.

"In the interim, the board has requested the CEO of Mango, Nico Bezuidenhout, to oversee the group's operations."

Michael said Bezuidenhout has a reputation for thinking outside the box, and that he has a good track record at Mango.

"Both these things are in short supply at the SAA," she said.

 - Fin24
 
Follow James-Brent Styan on Twitter by @jamesstyan.
 

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