MPs haul SAA's Gerwel over the coals
South African Airways (SAA) board chairperson Jakes Gerwel came under fire from ruling African National Congress (ANC) members of Parliament for not attending a meeting with the National Assembly public enterprises portfolio committee on Wednesday.
Although his apologies were delivered by SAA chief executive officer Khaya Ngqulu, the committee chairperson and ANC MP Yunus Carrim indicated that this was not good enough. He said next time the chair of a parastatal—known as state-owned enterprises—did not appear, he simply would not hold a meeting.
The parastatal board chairperson was obliged by law to appear before the committee “once a year” noted Carrim.
Gerwel was reported by Ngqulu to be in Bloemfontein on other business.
Carrim said he would make it “very clear” that the committee would not consider an annual report of a state-owned enterprise in future “unless the board chairperson is here”, pointing out that the chairperson and board owed their
appointment to Parliament. Executive managers, however, were appointed by the
ANC MP Peter Hendrickse said Carrim’s view was “not a personal opinion”.
Unhappiness had been expressed in the ANC study group—members of the ruling party caucus on the committee—on public enterprises as well. It was, he said, totally unacceptable that the board chairperson was not available to attend the report back to the committee.
Hendrickse said there were also 12 board members of SAA “and not one of them was available”.
The chief executive, however, noted that he would put the committee’s concerns to his chairperson but said he had not been aware that the other board members had been invited to attend the meeting.
“We take note of the sentiments of the committee. We will relay that to our board. I know that the chairman was invited. We will make sure that it does not happen again.”
Official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Martin Stephens said it was also his party’s view that it was “quite unacceptable that the people responsible in terms of the law [to report to the committee] did not make themselves available. They should be here.”
“We can’t do our job of holding the executive responsible if the correct people are not here.”
Gerwel is a former director general in the Presidency—during the presidency of former President Nelson Mandela. - I-Net Bridge