Struggling national carrier South African Airways (SAA) has since 2005 paid out more than R22 million in golden handshakes to chief executive officers (CEOs) and chief financial officers (CFOs).
This amount was revealed on Monday in response to a Parliamentary question.
Doctor Pieter Groenewald, Freedom Front Plus MP and party spokesperson on public enterprises, earlier asked how many CEOs and CFOs SAA had had during this period, why they had left the airline and what the separation package for each had been.
SAA had paid this amount in golden handshakes despite the carrier often having to beg government for cash-flow bailouts, as was the case last year when the airline was given a further R6.5 billion in government guarantees.
Netwerk24 earlier reported this puts the total government bailouts of SAA over the past 21 years at more than R23 billion.
According to the answer to the Parliamentary question, SAA has had seven CEOs and six CFOs since 2005.
The most expensive golden handshake – worth R9,3 million – was paid to controversial former CEO Khaya Ngqula in 2009 as part of a separation agreement.
Ngqula’s contract was terminated when it came to light that he had concluded SAA sponsorships worth more than R120 million with the international ATP tennis tournament.
Monwabisi Kalawe, who resigned as CEO last year, was paid a severance package of R2.2 million.
According to the Parliamentary answer Musa Zwane, current acting group CEO, is paid an annual salary of R3.8 million. Phumeza Nhantsi, who has been acting interim CFO since last year, is paid R322 620 per month.
Groenewald on Monday said in light of the number of CEOs and CFOs that SAA has had since 2005, it’s no wonder the carrier can’t make the grade.
“It is costing the taxpayer dearly. It’s clear the top management of SAA during this period was not and is still not equal to the task of handling the challenging requirements of the aviation industry.
“The fact that R22.7 million was paid in severance packages alone and that the current CFO, who is an interim appointment, is paid R322 620 per month is nothing less than contempt for taxpayers.
“The finance minister is expecting taxpayers to tighten their belts but at SAA taxpayers’ money is squandered. The FF Plus demands active steps be taken to immediately and permanently appoint competent persons.”