Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni during a media briefing in Kempton Park
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) and the SAA Pilots Association (Saapa) have filed a court application for SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni to be declared a delinquent director.
The application was filed at the high court in Pretoria on Tuesday. Myeni, the airline, state-owned company Air Chefs and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan are defendants in the case. Outa said in court papers that it is seeking an order against Myeni only, but included Air Chefs and Gordhan “by virtue of such interests as they may have in the outcome of this matter”.
If Outa and Saapa are successful, the application could have disastrous consequences for Myeni. It would mean the SAA chairperson could be disqualified from filling any directorship or executive position in any organisation in South Africa for at least 7 years. But that’s only if Outa and Saapa can substantiate their claims.
The deals that helped nosedive SAA
The Mail & Guardian has seen the court papers, which ask the court to declare Myeni a deliquent director for her alleged role in a number of botched deals that have affected SAA.
The papers outline how Myeni allegedly lied about the SAA board’s involvement in the airbus swap deal, and went against the advice of board members in various agreements to the detriment of SAA’s wellbeing.
In a press statement on Monday, Outa said: “During Myeni’s tenure as chairperson, SAA has lost an estimated R10.5-billion over a period of five years, despite that fact that SAA was profitable between 2010 and 2012.”
The deals mentioned in the court papers include the BnP Capital agreement, which would cost SAA more than R250-million, and the Emirates deal, which Zuma allegedly ordered Myeni to stop.
The infamous airbus swap is also mentioned in court documents, with Outa saying Myeni allegedly sent a letter to Airbus, indicating that the board had agreed to an agreement with an African aircraft leasing company.
“The SAA board had not, in fact, decided to amend the terms of the swap transaction on the terms set out in Ms Myeni’s letter or at all,” Outa says in the court papers.
In each of these instances, Outa states that Myeni violated various sections of the Public Finance Management Act and the Companies Act, because she failed to safeguard the assets of a public entity, and “grossly abused the position of director”.
At a press conference on Wednesday, pilot and Saapa chairperson Jimmy Conroy said the court application against Myeni was a result of her failure to bring sound leadership to SAA.
“SAA is in distress as a result of dysfunctional leadership,” he said
What Outa and Saapa have brought in their application has been extensively reported on in various media outlets, but both organisations believe they have enough evidence to compel the courts to declare Myeni a delinquent director.
Myeni will have one month to file responding court papers if she intends to lodge a defence against the claims.