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A searing experience for SAA

My always reliable mole in high places has told me that South African Airways is about to introduce what is described as an ”unavoidable” 10% levy on all air tickets. This levy has become necessary in order to fund the lifestyle and management needs of SAA’s chief executive officer, Khaya Ngqula, and also to pay for all future enormous double-page SAA apologies in the Sunday newspapers.

The 10% levy is to be introduced in affirmation of the unconditional support and succour afforded Ngqula by the Minister of Public Enterprises, The Honourable Alec Erwin. As we now know, the SAA strike cost the airline nearly a billion rand, all but crippled the schedules of a rash of other airlines, totally fucked up the plans and concerns of thousands upon thousands of paying SAA passengers, cost them huge amounts of money and dealt a formidable blow to SAA’s public relations.

In last weekend’s Sunday Independent, Erwin described this whole shameless SAA fiasco thus: ”What was happening was the real, live experiences of a maturing industrial relations system.” As we choked back our tears, we read on: ”I hope this searing experience of solidarity will release a collective energy of renewing and building a valuable and proud enterprise.”

And there we were, thinking Alec was never a wizard with words. But he did run smack out of superlatives when he described Ngqula’s brilliant management of both SAA and the strike. What speaks louder than words is the rumoured new deal that has hastily been struck, so as to keep Ngqula in place and ”cooking”.

The 10% levy on SAA tickets will be used wisely. As Ngqula is far too esteemed a figure to waste his precious time on tedious road trips around Gauteng, a permanent helicopter service is to be laid on for him. The helicopter, chartered at a clearance-sale discount of only R11 500 an hour, will be on permanent standby should Ngqula need to get to any SAA golf tournaments or affluent game-reserve accommodation without wasting his invaluable time.

During the first months of his CEO tenure, Ngqula spent a meagre R500 000 on bringing more efficiency to his job. It has now been agreed that much greater funds need to be allocated to these ends. The 10% levy on all SAA tickets will be welcomed by the several dozen airheads who have remained faithful SAA customers. Keeping Ngqula in the lap of luxury will not only improve SAA’s already phenomenal services but also promote many more ”searing experiences” for Minister Erwin to glorify.

In future, Ngqula will be allowed to pull SAA aircraft out of service should he need them for his personal use on internal routes. Stranded passengers will be given free tea and biscuits and accommodated on Nationwide or British Airways.

On future overseas flights, Ngqula will be allowed to commandeer the entire first-class section of any SAA aircraft so as to make sure that he is properly rested and stress-free when he reaches his destinations.

When it comes to shorter overseas travel distances, Ngqula will again commission private airliners to fly him from destination to destination, thus sparing him exposure to the dangerous germs that attend ordinary air travel. SAA cannot afford to have its inspirational leader brought down by some low-grade passenger virus.

In order to allow Ngqula to keep his management virtuosity at the sensational full strength so valued by ministerial praise-singer Erwin, special office arrangements have been made. Two floors of the SAA head offices are being revamped. An imported Swedish sauna suite is being installed. Three highly trained teenage Indonesian female masseurs will be on call, as will a standby team of Danish blondes. In a heated swimming pool, Ngqula will be able to sear to his heart’s content as he thinks up new ideas to make SAA the stunning success Minister Erwin so admires. Total costs of these alterations and additions are estimated to be in the region of R130-million.

To further preserve his incredible administrative strengths, Ngqula will only be expected to attend his offices three times a week and for no more than three consecutive hours. A special team of upper SAA management will be on standby to handle matters such as strikes by pilots and other unnecessary but troublemaking airline staff.

The luxury company house previously used by the airline’s CEOs has proved inadequate to Ngqula’s style and needs. A new and larger mansion is being acquired with parking for 175 cars, a heliport, grass tennis courts, bowling alleys, a partitioned seven-hectare landscaped garden, indoor swimming baths and many other attractions such as snooker tables, a private movie theatre, several theme bars and a Hustler retrospective.

When he’s overseas promoting SAA as the leading airline it is becoming under his electrifying leadership, Ngqula will continue to stay only in suites at hotels which adequately reflect his elevated status — the Dorchester or Savoy in London, the Sherry Netherland or Park Lane in New York.

Ngqula’s contract will be extended for another seven years with 20% increases built in to his current annual salary.

As I say, this might just be more malicious media rumour. If so, why does it sound so believable?

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