27 June 2019

South Africa: Gigaba Remained Silent As SAA Was Pressured to Sign Nonsensical Gupta-Linked Mumbai Deal

analysis

Through his silence, former public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba tacitly endorsed those pressuring SAA to scrap its Joburg-to-Mumbai route and hand it over to the Gupta-linked Jet Airways.

Former public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba and his staff were focused on South African Airways (SAA) scrapping its Mumbai route while the national carrier had far more pressing challenges, such as securing a government guarantee, the State Capture Commission heard on Wednesday.

Former SAA CEO Sizakele Mzimela told the commission how Gigaba was silent while an adviser berated the airline's leaders for continuing to operate the Johannesburg-Mumbai route rather than withdraw and enter into an agreement with India's Jet Airways, which has been linked to the Gupta family.

Mzimela, who led the airline between April 2010 and October 2012, said board members approached her when she became CEO and expressed concern about a recommendation from her predecessor Chris Smyth and general manager of mergers and acquisitions Jan Blake to cancel the Mumbai route.

"Although there was a proposal put in front of them indicating the route was not profitable, they questioned why that particular route was the one that was given priority because at that time SAA had challenges on a number...

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