Mango defends SAA acting CEO's academic details

Mango Airlines says the academic credentials of Nico Bezuidenhout, SAA acting chief executive, is factually correct. (Gallo)

Mango Airlines says the academic credentials of Nico Bezuidenhout, SAA acting chief executive, is factually correct. (Gallo)

Acting South African Airways (SAA) [chief executive] Nico Bezuidenhout at no time misrepresented his qualifications to the Mango Airlines board, Mango said on Monday.

It was disheartening to note media coverage this weekend, as a consequence of an error by Mango’s shareholder, SAA, Mango chairperson Rashid Wally said in a statement. 

The coverage related to Mango chief executive Bezuidenhout, and the alleged misrepresentation of his academic qualifications.

“As Mango board member and later as chairperson, I confirm that the academic narrative contained in Mr. Bezuidenhout’s CV, as presented to the Board prior to Mango’s launch in 2006, was factually correct and accurate.”

Good leadership
Bezuidenhout has led Mango for eight years since its inception, with both the vision and the integrity that was incumbent of a chief executive. 

“Under his leadership the business has performed beyond expectations in a challenging and highly competitive market,” said Wally. 

“Under his leadership the airline showed solid growth coupled with commercial sustainability that saw record profits in the past financial year.”

The Sunday Times reported on Sunday that Bezuidenhout was the latest in a series of high-profile executives and politicians who have been exposed for overstating their qualifications

SAA admitted that its 2011 and 2012 annual reports were wrong to state that Bezuidenhout had a BCom in transport economics and industrial psychology as well as an MBA.

The airline, which reportedly spoke on Bezuidenhout’s behalf, provided a 10-page CV on Friday that said he had enrolled for a BCom at the then Rand Afrikaans University (now the University of Johannesburg) in 1995, a year after completing matric. 

His academic records revealed that he dropped out the following year. In 1997, he registered with Unisa for a BCom majoring in industrial psychology and transport economics. According to Bezuidenhout’s CV one subject, taxation, had been outstanding for 14 years. He then reportedly registered for an MBA with Milpark Education, but did not submit the required thesis.

Last year, the SAA board asked Bezuidenhout to oversee the group’s operations after then acting chief executive Vuyisile Kona had been placed on precautionary suspension. SAA at the time said Bezuidenhout had never made it a secret that he did not complete his degrees in industrial psychology or transport economics. He chose to rather start working. 

The company said due to an editing error SAA’s 2011 and 2012 annual reports mistakenly stated that Bezuidenhout had completed his degrees. Earlier this month, Bezuidenhout was again appointed as acting chief executive to stand in for suspended chief executive Monwabisi Kalawe.

SAA stands by decision of appointment
The SAA board stood by its appointment of Bezuidenhout as acting chief executive officer, it said on Tuesday.

“The board of South African Airways (SAA) stands by its decision to appoint Mr Nico Bezuidenhout as acting chief executive officer based on his proven experience, capability and track record,” it said in a statement.

“In the opinion of the board, the tertiary studies that Mr Bezuidenhout has completed, although incomplete, provides sufficient grounding while his performance track record certainly exceed that of a number of previous, and highly qualified, airline CEO’s.”

The board said while it was not proposing to compare Bezuidenhout to other people, history was “littered with examples of extremely successful individuals who did not complete their tertiary degrees”.

It mentioned Michael Dell chief executive of Dell Computers, Richard Branson founder of Virgin Atlantic, industrialist Henry Ford, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, Larry Ellison, co-founder of computer technology company Oracle, and Ray Kroc, credited with expanding McDonald’s from a small restaurant. – Sapa


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