Zuma’s friend tightens grip on SAA: report

SAA chairperson and close friend of President Jacob Zuma, Dudu Myeni says she will run the airline without future guarantees from government, according to BDLive.

This follows a failed attempt by finance minister Pravin Gordhan to have Myeni removed from her position in the company, which has lost R18 billion over the past decade, and needs a R5 billion guarantee from government to stay afloat.

Gordhan said that SAA would not receive any guarantees from government until a new board, including a new chairperson, was appointed at the company.

It was reported in February that Gordhan had given president Jacob Zuma notification of his intent to get rid of Myeni.

However, last week, Zuma stepped into the matter, shooting down Gordhan’s suggestion, insisting Myeni stay where she is, as well as any other suggestions that a portion of the group be privatised.

According to the report, Myeni has reasserted her dominance at the company by suspending a top executive with whom she clashed. The executive, Thuli Mpshe, is head of human resources, and survived an earlier attempt by Myeni to have her removed.

The SAA chairperson is closely linked to Zuma, and was speculated to be one of the reasons behind the president’s decision to fire former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene.

At the time of his dismissal, Nene was clamping down on attempts by Myeni to renegotiate a deal with Airbus over the purchasing of planes, which would have enriched a third party company, and cost the airline significantly more money.

Nene also refused to give South African Airways guarantees and bailout when it was requested by the board.

Zuma said he would be ‘closer’ to SAA and its operations, now that Treasury has been unable to solve the group’s problems.

At a meeting between SAA staff and the president on Monday, Myeni said that the company still has money, and it will continue to operate without government guarantees in the future.

“Our aircraft are always full,” she was quoted saying.

More on SAA

Why Zuma sacked Nene according to the EFF and DA

How much money SAA has lost over the past 10 years

Gordhan to give SAA’s Myeni the axe?

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Zuma’s friend tightens grip on SAA: report