In the past 11 years, South African Airways (SAA) has paid close to R23 million in separation packages to chief executives and chief financial officers who did not complete their contracts, according to a response to a parliamentary question.
Pieter Groenewald from the Freedom Front Plus asked the national carrier how many CEOs and CFOs it had since January 2005 and to disclose the salary and separation packages each of these executives received.
In response to the question, SAA said it has had eight CEOs over an 11-year period, including the incumbent acting CEO, Musa Zwane, who was appointed on 14 November 2015.
Since October 2004, when former CEO Khaya Ngqula took office for a period of just over four years, none of the national carrier’s bosses completed their terms of office. Four of the eight CEOs were appointed in an acting capacity.
SAA spent altogether R25.5 million on its CEOs’ annual remuneration packages since the beginning of 2005.
Of the eight CEOs, Ngqula earned the most lucrative package by far. He received an annual salary of R5.3 million and got a R9.3 million settlement when his contract was terminated at the end of February 2009.
Ngqula is facing multi-million rand damages claims from SAA arising from alleged fiduciary duty dereliction and unauthorised sponsorships and disbursements.
The national carrier’s employment record for CFOs is not much better. Since January 2005 there had been altogether six CFOs, including the current interim financial head Phumeza Nhantsi who took office in November last year.
One of the five former CFOs was appointed in an acting position. The contracts of all four of the permanent CFOs were terminated prematurely.
SAA spent a total of R14.3 million on CFO salaries since January 2005.
Of the six CFOs, Wolf Meyer, who served from 13 June 2011 until the end of November last year, earned the biggest salary of R3.9 million per year. Meyer cited disagreements with the SAA board as the main reasons for leaving the airline’s service.
SAA’s financial results, which has been overdue for ten months, are expected to be tabled by the end of this month. The national carrier has been unable to table its financial statements because it needs a R5 billion guarantee from Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to continue to operate as a going concern.
Gordhan is taking a tough stance on state-owned enterprises requesting bailouts and hasn’t granted the R5 billion guarantee to SAA yet.
In the past, SAA had already received R14bn in guarantees from National Treasury.