Dudu Myeni. File photo: ANA

Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Sunday slammed the appointment of Dudu Myeni as Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi's adviser as well as plans to move embattled airline South African Airways (SAA) to the transport ministry.

This comes hours after reports emerged that the former SAA board chairperson had landed a top job as the minister's adviser.

According to a Sunday Times report, the controversial appointment – which could see Myeni net more than R1 million a year – came as the government considered moving SAA from National Treasury to the transport department.

Maswanganyi confirmed there was a national review under way to move SAA to his department. 

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He also defended the appointment of Myeni, who is a friend of President Jacob Zuma, saying she had been “highly recommended”, but would not say by who.

DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Finance Alf Lees labelled the planned move "incomprehensible". 

"The DA finds it incomprehensible that the hard-won steps towards saving SAA can be so recklessly undermined by the proposal to move the embattled airline from the Finance ministry to the Transport Ministry– a ministry that has so fouled up the e-toll saga.

"What makes such a proposal even worse is the news that Myeni has been appointed as a “special” advisor to the transport minister, a close ally of Zuma. Despite any rules that may preclude her from interfering in SAA affairs, Myeni will likely ignore these and meddle in the affairs of the airline."

Lees said his party would write to all the South African banks that are owed R13.8 billion by SAA, requesting them to immediately inform Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba that they will recall their loans to SAA with immediate effect should the proposal to move SAA away from National Treasury be effected.

"The removal of Myeni from the SAA board, the appointment of a new board (including an aviation expert) and, most importantly, the appointment of experienced executives like Vuyani Jarana and Peter Davies signalled the start of a process to attempt to save SAA and most of the more than 10 000 jobs. 

"This would be in vain if the airline is once again treated as a cadre enrichment vehicle and moved back under the influence of corporate warlord Dudu Myeni."