SAA, Jarana impasse turns nasty with probe into leaked resignation letter

The impasse between resigned South African Airways (SAA) chief executive Vuyani Jarana and the airline’s board has turned nasty with revelations that Jarana is now under investigation for possibly leaking his resignation letter over the weekend.

The Mail & Guardian has established that Jarana — who is currently serving out his notice, has written another letter to the board — this time expressing his displeasure at being the focus of a forensic investigation into how his resignation letter was leaked to the media.

Jarana’s resigned last Thursday at an SAA board meeting. However, news of his resignation only broke on Saturday, taking the board — which had asked him to rework his letter — by surprise. As a result, the now irate board has ordered that new SAA head of risk and compliance Vusi Pikoli investigate whether Jarana is responsible for the leak.

In his letter to the board dated June 5 Jarana takes exception to the investigation, which he only learned of from Pikoli, saying it smacks of a ploy to “tarnish my reputation, defame my character, and injure my dignity”.

“It is in violation of my constitutional rights and the rule of law. “My right to seek legal advice on the board’s unlawful and unconstitutional conduct remains reserved,” he wrote, adding that the board’s conduct fed into the trajectory of a constructive dismissal.


The M&G has established that the leaking of Jarana’s resignation letter had driven a wedge between him and the SAA’s board, which had asked him to tone it down out of concern for negative perceptions with lenders.

“They asked him to make it a one page letter that said either he was sick or wanted to spend time with his family,” a source close to the situation said.

Another source said: “He should have been more considerate in his wording. His letter has created anxiety and turmoil with lenders and service providers because it gives indications that the turnaround plan is in trouble and SAA needs to be put into business rescue.”

An amicable parting was in both parties interests, sources said, because Jarana allegedly wants an easy return to corporate and the board wants to avoid the perception of instability at the national carrier.

However, Jarana’s letter included references to a lack of support from government and the board, blurred reporting lines and operational interference, as well as details of financial difficulties at the airline.

READ MORE: High-level turbulence rocks SAA

In November last year, the M&G reported that Jarana had asked Gordhan to intervene in an impasse between him and the board. Jarana was reportedly frustrated that red tape was making it hard to implement his long-term turnaround strategy.

“One of the areas of concern is the speed of decision-making. It is impossible to succeed in the turnaround with the current level of bureaucracy we have to go through to implement the strategy,” Jarana wrote in his resignation letter.

“Currently SAA must obtain approval from DPE [department of public enterprises] and National Treasury to implement some of the key decisions . it takes away the agility required for an entity in financial distress, an ICU case.”

This is a developing story and we’ll be updating as more details emerge.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Sabelo Skiti

Sabelo Skiti is an investigative journalist.

Related stories

SAA in talks to recoup R350-million in blocked funds from Zimbabwe

The cash-strapped national carrier is in the process of recouping its blocked funds from Zimbabwe, which could go towards financing the airline’s business rescue plan

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

Too broke for Mboweni to budget

The scramble to find cash for an SAA bailout, Covid-19 grants and civil servants’ demands force postponement of mini-budget

Khaya Sithole: What’s the state’s role in business?

State participation is valid when the market can’t deliver what’s needed, such as roads and rail networks and telecommunications. But banks and airlines are private enterprise concerns

SAA creditors get R9.3bn from government

The state-owned airline owes R16.4-billion to lenders and needs an additional R10.1-billion to fund the business rescue plan

SAA needs R2.2bn to pay for voluntary severance packages

More than 3 000 employees out of 5 000 have accepted the packages. The state-owned airline, which went into business rescue, is likely to retain 1 000 workers
Advertising

Subscribers only

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

More top stories

Q&A Sessions: ‘My north star is the patient’

Rhulani Nhlaniki is Pfizer’s cluster lead for sub-Saharan Africa. As Pfizer starts phase III of the clinical trial of their Covid-19 vaccine candidate, he tells Malaikah Bophela that if it is successful, the company will ensure the vaccine will be available to everyone who needs it

In terms of future-telling failures, this is a Major One

Bushiri knows how to pull a crowd. Ace knows a ponzi scheme. Paddy Harper predicts that a new prophet may profit at Luthuli House

Ghost fishing gear an ‘immortal menace’ in oceans

Lost and illegal tackle is threatening marine life and the lives of people making a living from the sea

Vitamin therapy is for drips

It may be marketed by influencers, but intravenous vitamin therapy is not necessary and probably not worth the hype, experts say
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday