Myeni used Zuma's name to push for direct flights to Sudan, SAA exec tells inquiry
Pretoria - Former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni allegedly invoked the name of former president Jacob Zuma whenever she wanted her orders to be executed by senior officials of the national airliner during her six-year tenure.
SAA chief commercial director Sylvain Bosc made these remarks on Thursday when cross-examined by Myeni’s legal counsel Nqabayethu Buthelezi about the veracity of the claims that the former SAA board chairperson said the cancellation of the R1.5 billion deal with Emirates was on instructions from Zuma. Buthelezi said Myeni will testify that she never made such remarks to former SAA CEO Nico Bezuidenhout on June 16, 2015.
According to Buthelezi, his client will testify that she told Bezuidenhout not to sign that particular deal because the board did not vote on it.
He also said that the WhatsApp message Myeni sent to Bezuidenhout saying ‘We did not approve” was not in reference to Zuma but to the board.
Buthelezi also questioned why Bosc did not state in his report that the SAA/Emirates deal “failed because of the instructions from the former head of state.”
In his reply, Bosc told Buthelezi that he did not communicate directly with Myeni but was not surprised when Bezuidenhout informed him in Paris that Myeni said the decision not to sign the deal came from Zuma.
“I was not surprised by it. Ms Dudu Myeni always invoked the name of the former head of state. She did that after the former president of Sudan Bashir Al-Omar left South Africa following reports that he was to be arrested in the country.
“Bashir Al-Omar was already out of the country. Ms Myeni approached me and told me that I should create a direct flight route from South Africa to Khartoum in Sudan. I told her we can’t, it won’t be a profitable route for the country.
“In her reply, she said: 'This is the order of the President',” Bosc said.
According to Bosc there were numerous other instances where Zuma’s name was mentioned, but Buthelezi did not take the matter any further.
During his cross-examination, Bosc maintained that they did not sign the SAA/Emirates deal “because the President said so.”
Buthelezi is expected to grill Bosc on Friday on his other allegation that Myeni tried to block a R3.75 lease agreement with Airbus for five aircraft. Myeni allegedly wanted an “undisclosed and unnamed” African aircraft leasing company to do business with Airbus on behalf of SAA.