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SAA ex-CEO-Siza Mzimela, tells Zondo that Pressure to cancel Mumbai route part of ‘grey area’ in Gigaba’s tenure

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  • The former SAA group CEO Siza Mzimela was cross-examined at the Zondo Commission on Tuesday
  • She was questioned about allegations of what she described as a “grey area” in corporate governance during the tenure of former public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba.
  • An example of this was “interference” to get SAA to drop its route to Mumbai in favour of Jet Airways, which has links to the Gupta family.

When the South African Airways (SAA) fell under Malusi Gigaba’s tenure as minister of public enterprises, there developed a “grey area” on what would ordinarily be the board’s and management’s duties, according to the  SAA CEO Siza Mzimela to the Zondo Commission.

During the virtual hearing, the former CEO was cross-examined by Gigaba’s legal representative, Advocate Mandla Gumbi.

Mzimela first testified at the commission  – in June 2019. Her evidence related to the cancellation of SAA’s Mumbai route.

According to her evidence, at the time stated that Gigaba failed to act to prevent SAA from losing the route, to the advantage of Jet Airways – an Indian airline founded by Naresh Goyal, which the Guptas used for the controversial flight that landed in the Waterkloof military airbase in Pretoria in 2013.

More recently, in June this year, Gigaba was led in evidence at the commission on various topics, including Mzimela’s evidence. During his testimony, Gigaba denied conspiring to have SAA scrap its route from Johannesburg to Mumbai to aid the Gupta-linked airline.

‘Grey area’

In her original testimony, Mzimela alluded that during Gigaba’s tenure as minister, there was a “grey area” in terms of corporate governance. Gumbi wanted to know what Mzimela had meant by that.

“[It] was unusual was for a minister’s advisor [Siyabonga Mahlangu] to get involved in issues which would ordinarily be reserved for the board and management at SAA,” said Mzimela. “There was a blurring of lines. When a minister’s advisor comes in and behaves in a certain way, I would have had to assume he comes with the minister’s instruction.”

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