JOHANNESBURG - I note with aversion the latest salvo directed at me in the article of September 25, 2017 by Fin 24 (headlined: Delay of SAA financials ploy to protect Dudu Myeni), regarding the delay in the finalization of SAA’s financial statements.
Notwithstanding my past attempts to give this media platform the benefit of doubt against my better judgment, the latest write-up about me is an epitome of gutter journalism at its worst. The story is strewn with auxiliary verbs such as “may” or “could etc. and phrases such as “seem to have been”, “were likely to” and so on, and can therefore represent no more than conjecture and innuendo. It is neither news story nor an analytical piece or even a commentary. It is based on a statement issued by the Democratic Alliance. Since it is not news nor is it analysis, what was the news editor’s motive for publishing the diatribe?
Has Fin24 decided to reveal itself finally as the conveyor belt for opposition propaganda? Only time will tell. It is time I question the ethics of the journalist and the editor.
Before delving into the content and substance of the article, it is worthy to note that even the quality of the write-up leaves much to be desired. Journalism and English 101 will teach you that you can never use two or more tenses in one sentence. There is hardly a coherent flow from paragraph to paragraph. It is actually embarrassing. These themes traverse from President Zuma and the “ubaba” jibe, to Minister Gigaba, to Ms. Dudu Myeni, to the SAA as a going concern, right through to the rating agencies without any particular direction. The argumentation is poor to say the least. The headline and the introduction set the tone, but the rest of the story fails dismally to follow up with the arguments on why Ms Dudu Myeni has to be protected and from what.
Be that as it may, the conjecture by the Democratic Alliance that the delay in the finalisation of the SAA’s financial statements might be “a ploy” to protect Ms. Dudu Myeni could not be further from the truth. I reject that statement. Mr. Alf Lees, I am struggling to say the Honourable Member, as I doubt the appropriateness of this adjective, in this context.
He is the purveyor of this construct and should know better. As a former Accountant he should know that the finalisation of the financial statements (AFS) for reporting purposes involves a series of elaborate processes. He knows well that the compilation of AFS is the duty and competence of executive management with the participation of internal and external auditors as well as the Audit and Risk Committee of the board. SAA is no different. Mr Lees knows that the delay of tabling of the AFS could be as result of any of these processes including insufficient information supplied by management and inadequate response by management to the auditors’ management letter, or limitation of scope. The question to Mr. Alf Lees is - what have you done to question those responsible for that?
In this particular case, the delay in finalising the financial statements of the SAA is solely as a result of management’s ineptness. They simply have not finalised the statements for the board to approve it.
Mr Lees knows and chooses to ignore the oversight role of the board and its duty to approve the duly audited financial statements.
Mr. Lees’s disregard for these processes reeks of a member obsessed with political point-scoring or, alternatively and most likely, utter incompetence both as an Accountant and a specialist in financial matters and a spokesperson.
I cannot fault Mr. Lees for representing his party’s position. But as a spokesperson he ought to know better to advise his party to refrain from selling baloney to some of these media houses desperate for sensationalism. But I do not expect much from Mr. Lees. This is the same person who recently suggested in the media that his party was exposing irregular contracts to the tune of R5.7 billion at SAA, when in fact, it is the airline’s previous Board, led by Ms. Dudu Myeni that has been raising these irregularities in public since the release of the Ernst and Young, Edward Nathan and Sonnenberg Forensic report. I state as a fact that in November 2016, I reported rife corruption at SAA, and Mr Lees is yet to act, as required by The Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (12 of 2004). This is a Member of Parliament who continues to tell the public that he is serious about corruption and is prepared to root out corruption. We need to see action than making loud noises with no results. I appeal to Mr. Lees to do the right thing and stop being obsessed by making mention of the first and most effective Chairperson of SAA who has revealed corruption, maladministration and looting. Who could be the beneficiary of the looting of SAA as R24-billion benefits only 2% of the Black South Africans who are the majority in this country? Certainly, 98% benefits white-owned businesses. I continue to marvel at the Honourable Member, if indeed he can be called Honourable, and be truthful on SAA matters.
I venture to advise Mr Lees not to be over-zealous and try so hard to impress as a spokesperson on finance. It takes time to master this strategic craft, not to mention the finance portfolio. Mr Lees should be wary of being impatient in his quest to succeed in the world of political spin since he entered the world of politics as a failed farmer and a failed businessman attempting to build an equally failed accounting firm in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal.
Mr. Lees must strive to be at least good at something for once in his life. Politics as a discipline and a career, offers a lifetime opportunity and he must not squander it as he did with his farming and accounting careers. Following his disastrous latest press statement on SAA, Mr Lees must take a leaf from his surname and read his statements thoroughly before he issues them.
A media Briefing will be held on Tuesday to put all the matters surrounding SAA into perspective.
Dudu Myeni is a former SAA chairwoman.
- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE