SAA board seek new CEO

The SAA board will now have to find a new CEO to lead the country's national carrier.

Former SAA CEO Siza Mzimela. Picture: Sapa

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Airways (SAA) board will now have to find a new CEO to lead the country's national carrier.

Chief executive Siza Mzimela resigned from her position on Monday.

She said she felt it was the "best time" to step down.

In a letter to her staff, the CEO said, "I leave with some satisfaction and pride because we have, together, given this task our all and scored many notable achievements despite the challenging environment."

She added there had not always been a "uniform understanding and appreciation of [SAA's dual mandate] from stakeholders, which bred a myriad of challenges - as if the operating environment was not daunting enough without this unnecessary discourse and misinformation."

Mzimela's resignation came in the wake of a dramatic walk out by SAA board members and government agreeing to extend yet another lifeline to the embattled national carrier - in the form of a R5 billion loan guarantee for two years.

The airline's board chairperson Cheryl Carolus and six board members stepped down citing lack of support from the Department of Public Enterprises.

The airline is also expected to report a R1.25 billion loss for the past financial year, when it holds its annual general meeting on 15 October.

While Mzimela will leave a mixed legacy which includes two years of profit growth, her successor will be inheriting a poisoned chalice.

Mzimela's predecessor Khaya Ncqula left SAA under a cloud, with the airline still fighting in court to recover R30 million from him.

He is accused of spending the money on retention bonuses to company employees, despite him not being authorised to do so.

Several names have already beeg mooted to take over the reigns, these include SA Express executive Inathi Ntshanga and Mango CEO Nico Bezuidenhout, but whoever takes over will have to walk a fine line with the company's main shareholder - government.