President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet has approved a new board for South African Airways and Dudu Myeni has been removed from the SAA board. Picture: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Johannesburg - Cabinet has approved a new board for loss-making South African Airways (SAA) and controversial chairperson Dudu Myeni has been replaced by JB Magwaza, according to reports on Wednesday night.

eNCA reported that President Jacob Zuma's Cabinet approved a new board which saw Myeni; Tryphosa Mmakeaya; Mzimkhulu Malunga; Siphile Buthelezi; Nazmeera Moola; and Gugu Sipamla ousted.

New board members included Magwaza as chairperson, Nolitha Fakude as deputy chairperson; businessman Geoff Rothschild; aviation expert Ahmed Bassa; accountant Tinyiko Mhlari; and businessman Martin Kingston.

Cabinet retained Swazi Tshabalala; Peter Tshisevhe; Thandeka Mgoduso; Pieter Maluleka; and Akhter Moosa, according to the eNCA report.

African News Agency (ANA) could not independently verify the reports. Acting director-general of the government communications and information system, Phumla Williams could not comment saying: "The information did not come from me" when asked about the reports.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba's spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete declined to comment.

Cabinet met on Wednesday, and a post Cabinet media briefing on the outcomes of the meeting is scheduled for Thursday.

On October 5, Parliament’s standing committee on finance called for SAA to hold an annual general meeting in November and to find a replacement for Myeni.

“The SAA’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) should be held on 3 November as proposed by Treasury, and the current board chairperson’s term should end with the AGM. People with appropriate aviation experience and expertise should be appointed to the board, management strengthened and allegations of corruption should be tackled speedily,” committee chairman Yunus Carrim said at the time.

This week the committee received a legal opinion on National Treasury’s R3 billion bailout to the airline last week indicating that it might have been unlawful.

The Democratic Alliance’s deputy finance spokesperson Alf Lees contended that Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba may have tried to side-step Parliament when he approved the 11th-hour bailout, designed to prevent the airline defaulting on one of its loans, because National Treasury had known at least a month earlier that SAA would not be able to make its repayment to Citibank.

The committee did not take a firm position on the legality of the allocation, but agreed that Gigaba should have submitted a special appropriations bill to Parliament instead of relying on section 16 of the Public Finance Management Act.

The bailout is the second this year to debt-ridden SAA to allow it to honour its loan repayments. At the end of June, Gigaba also authorised money from the National Revenue Fund be used to allow the airline to repay R2.2 billion to Standard Chartered Bank.

Gigaba reported to Mbete on that lifeline in a letter dated July 20, and said it was necessary as Standard Chartered Bank wanted the airline to repay R2.2 billion extended in short-term bridging facilities in full at the end of June.

The committee had also solicited legal advice on whether the recent extension of Myeni's term at had been legal.