Dudu Myeni challenges Companies Act violations

The embattled chairperson of South African Airways, Dudu Myeni, is scheduled to challenge a finding that she was in breach of the Companies Act at the Companies Tribunal today.

The enforcement arm of the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) sanctioned Myeni in January after she failed to produce a board resolution to prove she did not lie to Malusi Gigaba over the airline’s plan to lease new aircraft.

The incident dates back to 2013 when Myeni wrote to Gigaba, then the minister of public enterprises, informing him that the SAA board had decided to lease just two new aircraft.

The board had in fact resolved to do a deal for 10 aircraft, bringing into question Myeni’s motives for attempting to split the deal.

This triggered a complaint to the CIPC and after months of investigation, Myeni was sanctioned in January. Part of that involved her formally telling her board colleagues and then finance minister Pravin Gordhan about the adverse finding.

While Myeni – who has repeatedly denied deliberately trying to mislead Gigaba – complied with the CIPC notice; she later filed an appeal that is scheduled to begin today.

The basis for her appeal is expected to be disclosed at the hearing.

Myeni’s woes go beyond this matter – last week Gigaba told the media that Myeni is likely to be replaced after the airline’s upcoming annual general meeting.

The M&G last week also revealed exclusive details of a bid by Myeni’s fellow board members to oust her on the grounds that she has allegedly been absent from board meetings and failed to respond to crucial correspondence about the running of the airline.

The board had commissioned legal opinion on what course of action to take against Myeni and in a document dated May 26, the board was advised of two possible options for her removal – one of them by invoking Section 71 of the Companies Act.

Myeni did not respond to questions, but the airline said all board members know and understand their obligations towards the business and government, as the shareholder, and “are expected to always act in accordance with appreciation of their responsibilities”.

Spokesperson Tlali Tlali, an emailed response said: “The main focus of the board is to stabilise SAA with a long-term goal to achieve financial sustainability.”

Myeni faces a separate legal challenge by Outa, the organisation against tax abuse, who wants a court to declare her a delinquent director. If successful, the case could result in Myeni being barred from serving as a director in a company for several years. 

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Jessica Bezuidenhout
Jessica Bezuidenhout joined the Mail & Guardian as an investigative reporter in March 2016 after 20 years at the Sunday Times working on news and investigations. She has been the joint winner of several local and international journalism awards, including Nat Nakasa, Mondi, Vodacom regional journalist of the year and Misa, and runner-up for the 2003 Natali Prize.

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