12 February 2013

South Africa: Gigaba Must Explain Suspension of SAA CEO

press release

The Minister of Public Enterprises, Malusi Gigaba, must explain in detail the reasons for the suspension of SAA's acting CEO, Vuyisile Kona.

Yesterday it emerged that Mr Kona has been placed on "precautionary suspension" after what the board described as "careful consideration of recent developments".

Whilst this latest revelation from SAA is troubling, the temporary appointment of Nico Bezuidenhout to the role of acting CEO is to be welcomed. His innovative approach is likely to prove an invaluable asset to the airline.

Relations between the board and Mr Kona have been highly tumultuous since his appointment in September 2012. In December last year, the embarrassing and overt disunity between the board and Mr Kona facilitated the strikes that occurred at SAA's offices during that month.

It is concerning that this is SAA's third CEO since 2009. The manner in which Mr Kona has parted ways with the airline is equally troubling. The reasons for his ousting appear to be clouded in uncertainty, with no substantive explanation forthcoming from either the board or Minister Gigaba.

SAA is a public entity funded in part by public funds. It is therefore not acceptable for the board of SAA to offer no explanation as to what motivated such a significant executive decision.

How can Parliament hold the executive accountable for its decisions if they are kept in the dark? Transparency appears to have gone out the window.

South Africans have had to put up with SAA's vagaries for far too long. As the member of the executive ultimately responsible for appointing SAA's CEO, Minister Gigaba owes South Africans a detailed explanation for Mr Kona's suspension.

Natasha Michael, Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises

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