Under-siege South African Airways (SAA) board chairperson Dudu Myeni has received backing from an unexpected quarter. City of Joburg councillor Leanne Williams believes Myeni is under attack because she is fighting corruption at the embattled national carrier.
Williams says she has since decided to start a campaign, “Hands off Dudu Myeni”, aimed at defending Myeni against what she called “white male corruption”.
If there’s abuse against one woman, that is abuse against us all. Before I’m a politician, I’m a woman and women must learn to stand together
Williams said she had received credible information from within SAA on why Myeni was being targeted.
“There is a tendency in this country to insinuate that everyone who defends someone in a powerful position has been captured. I want to place it on record that I’m doing this purely out of principle – to defend a woman who is being unfairly targeted. I would have done the same thing if it was Maria Ramos who was under siege.”
Williams said corruption was so rife at SAA, Myeni became the target once she started showing determination to bring the scourge to a halt. Myeni had uncovered “white male corruption at its best, including the corrupt sale of tickets by an international scam based in Brazil that is costing SAA R100 million a month”.
This and many other things are part of the global corruption and fraud that would be revealed soon, she said. Williams also cited SA’s richest man, retail mogul Christo Wiese, who she accused of using his position in 2010 as board chairperson of Mango, a subsidiary of SAA, to enrich himself.
“It was during his tenure as Mango board chair that a decision was taken to sell the airline’s tickets at Shoprite, where he is the controlling shareholder,” Williams alleged.
“This procurement process was not above board since no such tender was advertised. It is irregularities such as these that Myeni is questioning that have led to so much resistance by beneficiaries of corruption, who are now doing everything possible to vilify and demonise her.
“They are leaving no stone unturned to see to it that Myeni is removed so that they can keep milking SAA for their own benefit.”
Contacted for comment, Wiese said: “I don’t normally respond to these sorts of silly allegations. Suffice to point out that I served as nonexecutive chair of Mango and had absolute nothing to do with decisions taken on operational level. Please also note that, unlike SAA, Mango has been and still is a profitable operation.”
Williams said that of about R24 billion of SAA’s annual budget, only 2% of this was allocated to black business. The rest went to white capital.
Myeni was being fought because she wanted to reverse this. Williams claimed none of Myeni’s predecessors were willing to take the risk to expose this corruption since they were not willing to bite the hand that fed them.
“If there’s abuse against one woman, that is abuse against us all. Before I’m a politician, I’m a woman and women must learn to stand together.”
Williams had tough words for EFF leader Julius Malema, who she said had insinuated that Myeni had slept her way to the top.
“Why can a woman not be judged by her credentials and work ethic? This is part of old stereotyping of women. But as a young leader of a political party supported mostly by young people, much was expected from Malema. Shame on you, Julius.”
She added: “Women in powerful positions must stop being part of the men’s club and trying hard to fit in. Remember, you can be your own [person] without affirmation from men.”