​Former SAA interim CEO Bezuidenhout set to return to embattled airline

Former SAA interim chief executive Nico Bezuidenhout is set to make a return to the embattled state company’s domestic low-cost carrier, Mango.

The Mail & Guardian has learned through several highly placed sources that Bezuidenhout, who left Mango in 2016 to join regional low-cost airline Fastjet, will be the latest name to be unveiled by SAA’s embattled board following last week’s announcement that Adam Voss would soon take up the position of SAA technical CEO.

Three different sources have confirmed Bezuidenhout has been in negotiations with SAA for a couple of weeks after he was offered the position at the end of April. “From what I understand his main concerns are around whether Mango still enjoys the same level of independence from SAA it enjoyed in the past,” one source said.

Mango, a domestic low-cost airline, is a subsidiary of SAA but is totally autonomous with its own executive structure and board.

Fastjet is a listed British-based low-cost airline which operates in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique.


When Bezuidenhout joined the company it was loss-making and he has managed to stem the tide to a point where the company is projected to break even this year.

SAA is still trying to recover from the sudden resignation, two weeks ago, of former CEO Vuyani Jarana which threw the airline’s turnaround strategy into turmoil. Jarana, who joined SAA from Vodacom in late 2017, cited interference and lack of money as some of the reasons for his departure.

In the wake of his resignation, SAA board chairperson JB Magwaza said besides appointing Voss, the airline had made an offer for the Mango job and was close to concluding several other senior appointments at the airline.

SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali on Friday said the process to appoint a CEO, though at an advanced stage, is yet to be finalised.

“It is in our own interests to announce such critical appointments but cannot do so before the conclusion of salient administrative and legal processes. We urge the media to exercise patience until we have dispensed with these necessary outstanding steps to enable us to announce who the CEO for Mango will be and what their commencement date with the airline will be.”

When approached for comment Bezuidenthout referred all queries to SAA, saying they were best placed to comment on their appointments.

Bezuidenhout’s departure from SAA three years ago followed a massive dispute between him and controversial former SAA chair Dudu Myeni, which resulted in her informing then-Mango chair Rashid Wally of her intention to institute a third forensic investigation into him.

The fall-out was precipitated by Bezuidenhout revealing to SAA’s board that Myeni invoked former president Jacob Zuma — a family friend of hers — and ordered Bezuidenhout to pull out of signing an expanded code-share deal with Emirates Airlines in 2015.

Bezuidenhout pulled out of the Paris signing of the deal, which would have added R2-billion to SAA’s revenue, at the last minute after the midnight phone call from Myeni.

His return to Mango however has courted a little controversy after SAA’s advertisement for the position earlier this year listed matric and aviation experience as minimum qualifying criteria for the job.

Commentators accused SAA of tailoring the requirements to accommodate him, prompting SAA board member Thandeka Mgoduso to address the issue with media last week.

Defending the criteria last week Mgoduso said the airline did not want to close the doors for any deserving aviation executives who possess the necessary experience to run an airline.

In 2014, Bezuidenhout was accused of overstating his qualification in SAA’s 2011 and 2012 annual reports, which said he had degrees in Industrial Psychology and Transport Economics, as well as an MBA. This is despite the fact he had not completed any of them.

READ MORE: SAA acting CEO ‘overstated his qualifications’

At the time the airline called it an editing error, while Bezuidenhout, who has acted as interim CEO at SAA on two different occasions, said everyone knew that he did not have the qualifications. 

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

South Africa must revisit and refresh its idea of itself

Covid has propelled citizens into feelings of a new shared identity in which the historical force of ‘whiteness’ is fading into irrelevance

SAA to receive R10.5-billion government bailout after all

Several struggling state-owned entities received extra funds after the medium term budget policy speech

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

Institutions of higher learning should commemorate their casualties

The bust of Matikweni Nkuna at Tshwane University of Technology is an example of how we should honour those who fought for equal access to education

Seals abort pups in mass die-off

There are a number of factors — a pollutant, virus or bacteria or malnutrition — that may have caused the 12 000 deaths on Namibia’s coast.

Deconstructing South Africa’s construction industry performance

The construction industry has contracted sharply, partly due to Covid, and needs to rebalance its focus if it wants to survive
Advertising

Subscribers only

The shame of 40 000 missing education certificates

Graduates are being left in the lurch by a higher education department that is simply unable to deliver the crucial certificates proving their qualifications - in some cases dating back to 1992

The living nightmare of environmental activists who protest mine expansion

Last week Fikile Ntshangase was gunned down as activists fight mining company Tendele’s expansions. Community members tell the M&G about the ‘kill lists’ and the dread they live with every day

More top stories

Fifteen witnesses for vice-chancellor probe

Sefako Makgatho University vice-chancellor Professor Peter Mbati had interdicted parliament last month from continuing with the inquiry

Constitutional Court ruling on restructuring dispute is good for employers

A judgment from the apex court empowers employers to change their workers’ contracts — without consultation

Audi Q8: Perfectly cool

The Audi Q8 is designed to be the king in the elite SUV class. But is it a victim of its own success?

KZN officials cash in on ‘danger pay for Covid-19’

Leadership failures at Umdoni local municipality in KwaZulu-Natal have caused a ‘very unhappy’ ANC PEC to fire the mayor and chief whip
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday