South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. PHOTO: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has supported the appointment of the new SAA  board in Parliament yesterday (THUR) saying Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba would give details on the recapitalisation of the airline in his mini-budget next week. 

Ramaphosa, who was answering oral questions in the National Assembly, also rejected calls by the DA to sell off the national carrier.

However, he said Gigaba would give more explanations how the airline would be recapitalised. Telkom announced last week that government would not sell its 39 percent stake to fund SAA. 

SAA requires about R13 billion to stay afloat and Gigaba has said he will give more facts in his Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement.

Yesterday Gigaba axed Dudu Myeni as the chairperson of the national carrier and replaced her with businessman Johannes Bhekumuzi Magwaza. This was approved by the Cabinet. 

Businesswoman Nolitha Fakude replaced Tryphosa Ramano as the deputy chairperson. Gigaba also reconstituted the board of the airline and appointed Geoff Rothschild, Ahmed Bassa, Tinyiko Mhlari and Martin Kingston as non-executive directors.

Current board members Swazi Tshabalala, Peter Tshisevhe, Thandeka Mgoduso and Peter Maluleke will continue to serve as non-executive directors.

Myeni was removed from the board together with Ramano, Mzi Malunga, Siphile Buthelezi, Nazmeera Moola and Gugu Sepamla. 

Business Unity South Africa also backed the new board. 

“Business views the appointments as a step in the right direction to ensuring financial stability and good governance at SAA. The appointment of JB Magwaza, an accomplished businessman, as chairperson, together with a number of experienced business persons to the board will bring much needed capabilities to the board,” said Busa in a statement. 

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse also said it welcomed the decision of the Cabinet to appoint a new board at SAA. It accused Myeni of being at the centre of problems at the airline.

It said it would continue with its court application to declare her a delinquent director.  In Parliament parties raised concern about the bailout of SAA by the National Treasury. 
EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu said they were concerned that Gigaba went to the National Revenue Fund to bail out SAA  to repay its loans of R2.2bn and R3bn to Standard Chartered Bank and Citibank, respectively.

Lenders in South Africa have attached strict conditions for the extension of the R5bn loan. Ramaphosa defended the R3bn bailout of SAA. He said if that money was not taken from the National Revenue Fund lenders would have called their loans and cause a crisis in government.

“If that was not going to be done it would have resulted in all lenders of SAA coming in a rush causing a catastrophe,” said Ramaphosa. 

DA leader Mmusi Maimane also questioned why R3bn was given to SAA at the expense of helping the poor in the country. “The leader of the opposition knows very well that the MTBPS is going to be delivered by the Minister of Finance next week and how this funding of SAA is going to be effected. We should all look forward to the statement put to Parliament,” he said.

“You raised the issue of SAA  and that SAA should be sold. That is a platform on your party’s side. On this side (in the ANC) we are saying this is a state resource and what we are committed doing is to address the challenges at SAA. Today new announcements were made, there is a new board,” said Ramaphosa. 

- BUSINESS REPORT