SAA drama leaves MPs concerned

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IOL pic nov1 saa airplane tail colours Independent Newspapers File photo: Leon Nicholas

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MPs are “not surprised” at the suspension of SAA acting chief executive Vuyisile Kona and have expressed unhappiness after some board members snubbed them during an oversight visit.

Parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises was, however, “concerned” by Kona’s suspension, considering the many problems plaguing the airline, its chairman, Peter Maluleka, said.

Maluleka said the committee had noted that over the past few months several board members and top executives of SAA had resigned.

It was “not surprised at all” by the latest developments at SAA and Kona’s suspension.

Kona was placed on “precautionary suspension” on Monday for reasons not yet explained.

“In November the committee undertook an oversight visit to SAA,” Maluleka said.

“Members of the committee were not satisfied with the outcome of the discussions.

“The presentations made by the SAA board and its management were not detailed.

“The committee recommended and appealed to SAA to expand on its strategy and give regular progress reports on implementation.”

Maluleka said that the governance problems at SAA had affected the execution of its turnaround strategy.

The committee also raised concerns that seven board members were absent during its visit and wondered about their commitment to SAA.

“But we have full confidence in the board and the minister of public enterprises that they will bring about stability in the entity,” said Maluleka.

During the oversight visit, SAA listed the spending of money on “unpatriotic employees” as one of the problems that had plagued the previous board. It conceded that events at the national carrier had affected staff morale.

Kona’s suspension comes about a month after he and members of the board gave a presentation to the committee.

Kona’s presentation highlighted a number of issues, including challenges facing the airline, the contribution of SAA to the economy, new initiatives and the state of the airline industry.

On the question of problems facing the board that were identified in the committee’s report, Kona told MPs that most board members were new to the industry and were on a learning curve.

According to the oversight report, the board told the committee that they were fully committed to serving the airline and required the support of Parliament.

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