Gigaba: SAA board resignations ‘bizarre’

The Minister of Public Enterprises, Malusi Gigaba, has called the resignations of the South African Airways (SAA) chairwoman Cheryl Carolus and seven Non-Executive Directors of the Board ‘bizarre’.

In a statement on Friday, Gigaba’s spokesperson, Mayihlome Tshwete, confirmed the resignations of Carolus, along with Russell Loubser, Bonang Mohale, Louis Rabbets, Jabulani Ndhlovu, David Lewis, Teddy Daka and Maggie Whitehouse.

Tshwete said of particular concern was that the resignations happened after prompt engagement of the board members upon learning of media leaks of “confidential government information”, which Gigaba condemned in the strongest terms.

“However unfortunate the media leak may be, the insinuation that the said media leakage was caused or orchestrated by the Minister or the department is both mischievous and ill-conceived. Further, the suggestion that the Minister or the department, in the exercise of statutory duties, were actuated by malice or intention to injure the good names or reputation of the Board is equally misplaced. It is the Minister’s considered view that the particular media leakage is an abuse of free speech and the openness of our society,” said Tshwete.

“It was always anticipated that the terms of the majority of Board members would come to an end at the upcoming AGM scheduled for 15 October 2012. In any event, it is a condition of appointment of the affected Board members that their appointment is subject to review by the Minister annually,” he said.

Tshwete said it was an established convention that, prior to any AGM, if changes to the Board are anticipated, Gigaba would consult and obtain the concurrence of Cabinet, which he did on 19 September 2012.

Tshwete said in light of the resignations and the imminence of their effect, Gigaba had exercised his powers in terms of section 60 of the Companies Act, acting in his capacity as the sole shareholder representative. He said Gigaba had accepted all the resignations and had resolved to appoint the following new non-executive directors to complement the remaining members of the board:

The new members are Vuyisile Kona, Andile Mabizela, Andile Khumalo, Bongisizwe Mpondo, Dr Rajesh Naithani, Carol Roskruge, Raisibe Lepule and Nonhlanhla Kubeka.

Kona was also appointed as the new chairperson.

“In reaching the above resolution, I was impelled by the best interest of the company and took into account, amongst other things, the state of the airline, the dynamics of the aviation sector and the need to redirect the airline to a path of sustained profitability,” said Gigaba.

Gigaba said the persons appointed to the board, when viewed collectively, possessed skills and expertise in aviation, airline business, transport policy, economics, procurement and supplier development, governance of state owned companies, finance, auditing, risk management, mergers and acquisition.

“I have no doubt that they have the capacity to assist government in propelling the airline to greater heights.”

“I would like to thank Ms Dudu Myeni for her selflessness and for acting as Chairperson whilst I considered the matter and reflected on the course forward. I would like to assure the executive, staff, customers and suppliers of the airline and the public in general that the department and I will spare no effort to ensure that the airline’s operations are not disrupted in any way and that its governance is strengthened,” said Gigaba.

Tshwete said the department was continuing in its consultations with the National Treasury on the guarantee application, the resolution of which will be announced as soon as it is finalised.