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Fresh leaders join SAA as embattled airline edges towards new era

Jun 15 2017 15:36
Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – Two new non-executive directors have been appointed to the embattled South African Airways (SAA), while a chief executive will be recommended to Cabinet for approval in the coming weeks.

SAA made a R4.5bn loss in 2016/17, while it relied on R16.7bn worth of government guarantees. A new board – headed by the controversial Dudu Myeni – was appointed in 2016 September, after which another bailout of R5bn was approved.

The leadership changes during an update on the economy by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, who is the shareholder representative for SAA.

Gigaba said Treasury is “committed to strengthening the board, by filling two vacancies, including by appointing a person with deep aviation experience and expertise”.

Regarding Myeni, he said that “Cabinet appointed the board chair for a final term. At the upcoming AGM, we will attend to the matter of appointing her successor.”

In addition, he said Treasury “will be recommending a chief executive to Cabinet in the coming weeks”.

This comes after SAA announced the appointment of Phumeza Nhantsi as its new chief financial officer (CFO) from 1 May, following her stint as acting CFO.

“Since the appointment of the full-strength board in September 2016, the focus has been on stabilising the business and one of the priorities was to ensure that key management vacancies are filled,” said SAA acting CEO Musa Zwane at the time.

Democratic Alliance spokesperson on SAA Alf Lees was not as optimistic about her appointment.

He said that “during her time as interim CFO, SAA was involved in a number of controversial financial debacles including the infamous Airbus debacle that resulted in Jacob Zuma firing Nhlanhla Nene as the minister of finance in December 2015”.

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