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SAA fires CFO, CEO

Crisis hit national carrier South African Airways has fired suspended executives Musa Zwane and Phumeza Nhantsi following the findings of independent disciplinary hearing led by Nazeer Cassim SC.

The Mail and Guardian has learnt from one of the executives this evening that SAA informed them that its board had resolved to terminate their services. This follows Cassim finding both guilty of gross misconduct on three of four charges put before them.

“In the circumstances, you are hereby notified that your employment with the company is terminated with immediate effect based on the outcome of your disciplinary hearing,” said the letter signed by CEO Vuyani Jarana.

The pair had been placed on suspension for recommending to SAA’s board in 2015 that the airline get into a contract with unknown boutique financier BnP Capital to raise R15-billion to consolidate SAA’s debt in return for R256-million fee or 1.5% of the debt.

Cassim also found the two to have acted dishonestly when they recommended SAA pay BnP a R49-million cancellation fee after the airline cancelled the deal.

This was after media reports blew the whistle on the deal, which was put in place after Finance Minister instructed SAA not to do a similar deal with the Free State Development Corporation, which was concluded while BnP had lost its registration with the Financial Services Board.

Cassim said though he acknowledged the role played by former SAA Dudu Myeni, the two executives should have resisted the deal, which was R171-million more expensive than a hypothetical quote provided by an SAA staffer who believed the deal could be done cheaper than 1.5%.

In her defence Nhantsi said by the time the hypothetical quote had come before her, SAA’s board had already resolved to appoint BnP via a confined process and her own advice put fees of that nature between 2-3%.

“South Africa can do better. Ordinary South Africans expect better from the rulers of the day. We cannot afford CEOs and CFOs who look after their own interests and not that of the citizens,” Cassim said.

In his recommendation he said the pair’s dishonesty had terminated the employment relationship with SAA.

Nhantsi said she intended the appeal her termination, while Zwane, who earlier today issued an apology saying he had made a mistake, also confirmed the termination.

SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali has confirmed the dismissals, adding, “A report with certain recommendations was presented to the SAA board of directors for consideration and the board resolved to terminate the employment of the two executives.”

“The shareholder has duly been notified of this decision.”

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Sabelo Skiti

Sabelo Skiti is an investigative journalist.

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