Transformation remains a thorny issue at South African Airways, says chair of the airline’s board of directors Dudu Myeni.
Speaking at a public meeting held with some concerned citizens, Myeni sought to set straight some of the recent reports on the state of the national carrier in Kempton Park on Thursday. She said though she was pleased with some of the progress achieved by SAA under her leadership she still had serious concerns over transformation.
“I am not very pleased with the current percentage in terms of transformation, part of what has sat uncomfortably and created a lot of umbrage to a number of people is that I had said out of R24 billion, can’t we then give 30% to youth of this country, to military veterans, women and people with disabilities, its created a lot of hatred. Partly one of the reasons why I am being attacked.”
Black First, Land First founder and leader Andile Mngxitama joined by other leaders in society requested an audience with Myeni seeking clarity on issues such as the finances of the airline, privitisation, corruption allegations and transformation. Most were shocked and shook their heads when she mentioned the challenges SAA had with its procurement budget and the struggle to secure black business.
Myeni said she only goes to the airline between 4 to 6 times a year as she doesn’t work there but studies the reports to check on progress.
“Figures around issues of transformation like the triple BEE, why are we not spending on young people or on women, as a board you make recommendations and start engaging with the executive to say why is this thing not moving,” she said.
The embattled chairperson said she started a roadshow in 2015 to educate different groupings in society around making proposals to the company, claiming it was a hands on approach she had decided on in order to address the frustrations around the lack of action when it came to transformation.
Myeni also admitted that SAA had failed in bringing in more black pilots.
“We signed a deal with the Department of Trade and Industry to get assistance in terms of development of the black industrialists programme, the reason behind this being that when we signed with our executives they were saying black people do not have money, you sign with them you will not get the results you were expecting,” a comment she admitted she agreed with, Myeni said.
As part of a hands on approach the chair of the SAA board sought to have the company start conducting roadshows.
“This way people started to receive information regarding proposals. I have also asked for the database of different groupings such as unemployed graduates, people with disabilities.
“An MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) to say if we are saying we take transformation seriously we would take from our own database.”
Myeni said when she engaged with suppliers she then expected the executives to follow up with implementation and she would in turn hold the board accountable for transformation and the targets its set for SAA.