Malusi Gigaba undermined SAA’s board authority, ex-CEO tells inquiry
Sizakele Mzimela said in 2012 the airline’s chairperson Cheryl Carolus resigned nearly plunging the airline into crisis after not seeing eye to eye with Gigaba on SAA’s Johannesburg-Mumbai route.
JOHANNESBURG – Former South African Airways (SAA) CEO Sizakele Mzimela has told the Zondo commission that six board members resigned at the same time because former Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba undermined their authority.
Mzimela said that in 2012, the airline’s chairperson Cheryl Carolus resigned, nearly plunging the airline into crisis after not seeing eye to eye with Gigaba on SAA’s Johannesburg-Mumbai route.
She testified that Gigaba insisted that the board drop the route in favour of Gupta-aligned Jet Airways, but the board rejected the move causing tensions.
Mzimela said the former minister attempted to force SAA and the board to cut the route even if it didn’t make sense to do so. And after numerous clashes with the board, who resisted the move, Mzimela said Gigaba started interfering with the board’s authority.
“And equally they were disturbed by that they were professionals who were now being portrayed as people who did not governance in the public space,” she said.
Mzimela said she also wanted to resign but Carolus begged her not to.
“Ms Carolus, who was the chair before resignation, then convinces me saying ‘please you need to stay in the interest of the stability of the organisation’," she said.
Following the resignations, SAA announced that it would cut the route completely in 2015.
WATCH: Former SAA CEO Sizakele Mzimela testifies at state capture inquiry
(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)