Finance minister Malusi Gigaba has expressed full confidence in SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni and the airline’s board of directors‚ although he says he will remain hands on at the troubled national carrier.
Gigaba also said he wanted to put in measures to instil better governance at the board level of SAA‚ saying he was convinced that the airline was capable of turning around its fortunes.
His attitude towards Myeni‚ who is said to enjoy the support of President Jacob Zuma‚ is in contrast with that of his predecessor Pravin Gordhan who took a hard-line against the SAA board chair.
Gigaba was briefing the media shortly after delivering his first treasury budget vote in parliament on Tuesday.
“They come first and foremost on the quality leadership that we have at the company in the form of the board‚” said Gigaba.
He said one way of strengthening the board would be by filling the one vacancy on the board with someone with “aviation expertise.”
“I want to reiterate the statement I’ve been making. I think that SAA can be fixed. My own belief is that if we strengthen governance instruments at SAA‚ ensure there is stability at the board‚ ensure that there is a CEO‚ ensure that the CFO functions and performs as well as we expect her to and that the board pays attention to the implementation of the long term turnaround strategy as has been reviewed‚ I think that we can be able to turn the airline around and bring it back to financial health‚” said Gigaba.
He said the National Treasury was still considering its options regarding the recapitalisation of SAA‚ which could include a possible partnership with a private equity partner.
Government was also mulling over the idea of merging all its aviation assets into one airline.
It owns various companies in the aviation industry that operate as separate entities‚ including SAA‚ low-cost airline Mango and regional carrier SA Express.
“What is the recapitalisation package that will be provided? I can’t say at this point. Government is going to look at what is the package of recapitalisation that we will provide to the airline. One will make a statement at the medium term budget policy statement as to how we suggest we move forward‚” said Gigaba.
Tiso Black Star Group/TimesLIVE