Zondo commission hears of a breakdown in good governance at SAA

The witness says this happened during the time when Malusi Gigaba was the minister of public enterprises.

Former group chief executive officer at South African Airways (SAA) Siza Mzimela on Wednesday told the commission of inquiry into state capture about “a breakdown in good governance” at the airline during former minister of public enterprises Malusi Gigaba’s tenure.

Mzimela told the commission that she served in the role from 2010 to 2012 and that in the former year, Barbara Hogan was dismissed as the minister of public enterprises, a ministry which the national airline falls under, and was replaced by Gigaba.

Mzimela was asked to compare her experience of the governance of the state-owned entity (SOE) during Hogan and Gigaba’s tenures.

Under Hogan, governance was very well-managed and the minister ensured her communication with the airline’s board and with the department’s director-general was clear and transparent, Mzimela said.

She said during Hogan’s tenure, the minister or the individuals under the ministry ensured that all forms of communication with SAA were formal and in writing and that the representatives from the airline knew all the individuals from the ministry who interacted with the organisation with regards to monthly monitoring meetings.

“There were very clear levels of communication and transparency,” Mzimela said, adding that in comparison, that was the difference in governance between Hogan’s tenure at the ministry and that of her successor.

Under Gigaba, a large number of people from the ministry who in the past had never requested information from the SOE suddenly began to do so, Mzimela told the commission.

“Things were beginning to fall through the cracks in terms of the management of information, the management of requests,” Mzimela said, adding that, that was when she noted, “a breakdown in good governance” at the national airline.

Mzimela also told the commission that after Gigaba took office at the ministry in November 2010, the former minister took issue with certain regulatory documents at SAA.

In particular, Gigaba had concerns with the memorandum of incorporation (MOI) and wanted it to be more specific on who the power to appoint the airlines’ chief executive officer (CEO) vested, which was a decision taken by the board.

The commission is chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

Mzimela’s testimony continues. Watch it live courtesy of the SABC:

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