Former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni was again a no-show at the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday morning in a case brought against her by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) and the SAA Pilots’ Association (SAAPA).
The groups are trying to have the controversial Myeni, a close friend of former president Jacob Zuma, declared a delinquent director for her fiduciary conduct.
They said they were ready at the court “for the long-awaited start to the delinquent director case against Myeni, but she didn’t arrive”.
Instead, she called in with her excuse, they said, which they had to pass on to the court on her behalf, since her lawyer was not even present.
The trial date had already been set in February 2018, they pointed out.
Judge Ronel Tolmay rolled the case over until today, to give Myeni a last chance to appear. The case was postponed until Thursday after Myeni’s lawyer Daniel Mantsha appeared on her behalf, apparently for free.
The application was launched on 7 March 2017 by Outa and SAAPA against Myeni. SAA and Air Chefs (Myeni was a director of both these SOEs at the time) and the minister of finance (who was responsible for SAA at the time) were also cited as respondents, Outa has explained.
Myeni served on the SAA board from 2012 to 2017, with the finances of the state-owned company reaching perilous levels.
“During Myeni’s tenure as chairperson‚ SAA ran up losses of R16.844 billion over five years (2012/13 to 2016/17)‚ despite that fact that SAA was profitable from 2009/10 to 2011/12,” according to Outa.
“This is believed to be the first application for delinquency against a director of a state-owned enterprise. Such a declaration would block her from holding any positions as a director,” added Outa, which believes that such an action is crucial to restore accountability in SOEs.
Myeni is currently listed as a director of 13 entities, including Centlec SOC, which is the Mangaung municipality electricity utility, and the Jacob Zuma Foundation NPC. A declaration of delinquency would remove her from these positions.
The state-owned airline has received numerous bailouts and is expected to ask for another bailout from parliament to remain a going concern.
According to National Treasury, SAA needs an additional R4 billion for the current financial year. Last year, it received a R5 billion lifeline to prevent it from defaulting on debt repayments.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is of the view that cash-strapped state-owned entities constantly being bailed out should be placed under curatorship. He has even appointed chief restructuring officers for Eskom, the SABC and SAA.