Picture: Sumaya Hisham/Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: Sumaya Hisham/Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)

Myeni to claim execs acted in haste to clinch SAA deal with Emirates

By bALDWIN nDABA Time of article published Feb 7, 2020

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Johannesburg - Former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni is expected to testify that the national carrier’s senior executives had acted in haste to clinch a R1.5 billion deal with Emirates in June 2015.

Myeni is also due to state that these senior officials had acted “against a culture of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in South Africa” to conclude business deals on time.

These were the startling revelations made by her counsel, Advocate Nqabayethu Buthelezi, during the cross- examination of former SAA chief commercial director Sylvain Bosc on Thursday.

Bosc had earlier accused Myeni of being responsible for blocking the Emirates deal in June 2015, allegedly saying she acted on the instructions of former president Jacob Zuma.

He also said Myeni had tried to block a R3.75bn lease agreement with Airbus for five sophisticated aircraft to be used on international flights between Joburg and Dubai.

Both these deals were conceptualised in March 2015. The SAA-Emirates deal was due to be concluded in Paris in June 2015 when Myeni allegedly stopped it.

The deal with Airbus was allegedly supposed to be concluded in September 2015, but Myeni allegedly wrote of senior Airbus officials stating that her board wanted the involvement of an African aircraft leasing company to conclude such a deal on behalf of SAA.

During his cross-examination, Buthelezi was adamant that it was unusual for SOEs to conclude deals on time. In his cross-examination, Buthelezi asked Bosc: “Did you ever work for any company prior to SAA? Did you know the culture of SOEs in South Africa that they do not conclude deals on time?”

In his reply, Bosc, who is from France, replied that he was unaware of this culture in SOEs, but that his job at SAA - his only employer - was to implement the turnaround strategy of the national airliner and make it a profitable company. He also denied Buthelezi’s claims that he wanted to conclude the deal in France as it would have given him an opportunity to attend the Paris Airshow - the biggest airshow in the world - that coincided with the signing of the Emirates deal.

But according to Bosc, the decision to sign the deal during the Paris Airshow was made because it would have guaranteed maximum media attention and publicity for SAA.

Buthelezi is expected to grill Bosc again today after he made numerous damning allegations against Myeni.

Bosc had also testified that former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene also rejected Myeni’s move to bring in a business partner “behind closed doors” in November 2015.

“A few days later I read in the media that the minster had been fired from the Cabinet. This was a victory for corruption and incompetence,” Bosc said.

Political Bureau

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