Dudu Myeni, chairperson of the struggling South African Airways, says she doesn’t need President Jacob Zuma in order to hold top positions – she is an experienced board member whose “CV speaks for itself”.
This was how she took on her critics in Parliament yesterday.
Myeni has frequently been criticised for being a Zuma ally and because he saw to it that she would be reappointed despite the billions of rands in losses suffered by SAA in the past two financial years under her chairpersonship.
A worked-up Myeni told Parliament’s standing comittee on finance that it “gave her huge pleasure” to announce that SAA had handed in its financial statements for 2015-2016 to Parliament.
The statements had been outstanding due to the company’s dire financial condition.
SAA only filed its financial statements for 2014-2015 to Parliament in September this year.
The latest financial statements showed that in the 2015-2016 financial year, SAA suffered a loss of R1.4 billion – better than the R5.6 billion loss in 2014-2015.
Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas told the committee that SAA’s new board had put together a turnaround strategy that would be submitted to Parliament in February 2017.
Myeni said the latest financial statements showed an improvement in the airline’s finances.
“The airline is in safe hands. It will not collapse. It is still in the air and still wins prizes under this ‘incompetent’ chairperson,” she said.
Myeni added that when she was appointed as a board member of Absa and an agent of the department of trade and industry in Guangdong, China, she needed no one to recommend what she should or should not do.
She denied emphatically that she knew the controversial Gupta family, or that she had contact with them.
Myeni explained that she could make unpopular decisions but wasn’t a bully to staff or board members, as had been reported.
“I ask questions and do what is right.”
She also denied being directly involved with the awarding of SAA tenders.
Myeni said she viewed transformation as very important and said military veterans, women, people with disabilities and young people were at the top of the list of the airline’s transformation targets.
It gave her great pleasure to see the contributions that she had made.
She said it wasn’t a pleasure when young people (referring to the Economic Freedom Fighters, who have been calling for her head) criticised her in the presence of children.
She said her husband was just waiting to retire so that he could take on the EFF MPs who kept referring to her as “Dudu Myeni Zuma”.