By BO Staff Writer
On 03 December the Black First Land First (BLF) movement will host its inaugural Black Business Seminar in Pretoria.
One of the speakers who will address thr seminar is South African Airways (SAA) chairperson, Dudu Myeni. As part of SAA, Myeni has had to deal with misogynistic and racist criticisms from the opposition parties, white capital and their allies in the white mainstream media.
But what is never mentioned in the public is how Myeni has been fighting to get the State Owned Enterprise (SOE) to benefit black people.
Duduzile Cynthia Myeni was born in KwaZulu Natal in October 1963. Myeni holds a certificate and diploma in teaching, business administration and management qualifications.
No stranger to business and management, she has sat on the board of numerous companies and has consulted for a number of blue chip companies and government. She has previously served as a director at the ABSA Bank and Business Against Crime unit, as the chairperson of the Jacob Zuma Foundation and as the president of the South African Association of Water Utilities (SAAWU).
Among many other business awards, in 2009, she was awarded the South African Chamber of Commerce (SACCI) Business Woman of the Year award for her work in starting her own company, Skills Dynamics and her numerous social development projects.
After years of working in the public and private sector, Myeni took on the reigns as SAA chairperson in January 2015, after the SOE had been dragged to the ground by years of financial mismanagement and looting by white males. She drastically cut losses of the airline from R5.6 billion in the 2014/2015 financial year to R1.4 billion in the 2015/2016 financial year, and this number is set to decrease in the next two years.
Browsing through white media reports about Myeni and the finacial problems SAA currently faces, no one mentions that in 2001, former SAA CEO Coleman Andrews bagged a golden handshake of R232 million after the airline made a loss of more than R700 million that year. How another white CEO, Andre Viljoen took home a R3.6 million pay out on top of a R2.2 million salary and a R1 million performance bonus, even though the airline lost more than R15 billion under Viljoen! Meanwhile, Myeni received only R840 000 last year.
Myeni has taken it upon herself to push for radical transformation at SAA. In an open meeting held with progressive blacks in September, Myeni shared her frustration at the lack of transformation in the airline. She explained that 98% of the SAA annual budget is given to white companies. Part of the reason why opposition parties like the Democratic Alliance (DA) want her out is because they want to maintain the white monopoly at SAA.
As a black woman at the helm of a state owned company, Myeni has faced a slew of insults that have not only undermined her intelligence, but sought to degrade her person, playing on the old racist patriarchal trope of reducing black women to sexual objects. The so-called “socialist” party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and its members of parliament, have also played along with this women-bashing trope.
At the Black Business seminar, Myeni will hopefully share her great experience in running businesses to benefit black people and how to deal with the challenges that face all black business owners.
The Black Business Seminar seeks to assist Africans to tackle challenges that affect the growth and sustainability of black owned businesses, while pushing the black agenda for change in South Africa’s predominantly white controlled economy.
Details of the BLF Black Business Seminar can be found below: