Board members jump as SAA takes nosedive

Russell Loubser

South African Airways (SAA) was plunged deeper into crisis yesterday when its chairwoman Cheryl Carolus and six other board members resigned. There has been speculation SAA will report a loss of more than R1.5bn and its low-cost carrier Mango a loss of R100m.

This follows a decision by Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba to cancel SAA’s annual general meeting this week and his request to Parliament for a two-month postponement of the tabling of its annual report.

Ms Carolus said there had been a breakdown in the relationship with the shareholder. She found it frustrating that a “notion continues to exist that there is no strategic vision on the table at SAA”.

Former JSE CEO Russel Loubser was the first board member to quit. He resigned with immediate effect on Wednesday, citing a lack of support from the Department of Public Enterprises.

Of SAA’s 14-member board eight have resigned so far. Carolus suggested that there could be more resignations.

The board members who told Ms Carolus they were leaving with her are Bonang Mohale, David Lewis, Jabulani Ndlovu, Louis Rabbets, Margaret Whitehouse and Teddy Daka.

The Department of Public Enterprises has been lobbying the Treasury on behalf of the SAA for a cash injection of up to R6bn.

She said the delay in the tabling of SAA’s financial statements at Parliament had been blamed on the board, which was not right.

Ms Carolus said she, and other board members, had already indicated to Mr Gigaba that they were not available for another term because of the amount of time required to oversee the airline, however. The board had drawn up a transition plan for a new board, to ensure that their resignations did not hamper the airline.

Mayihlome Tshwete, spokesman for Mr Gigaba, said last night he found it “very interesting that Ms Carolus said her relationship had broken down with the minister in the week when rumours of board changes surfaced.

“We would have liked the regular procedures to be followed.

Gigaba learned that the chairperson and six board members resigned through the media, his office said on Friday.

“We only found out about the resignations through the media. Our main focus is to ensure that SAA remains a national asset for both our economy and country,” Tshwete said.