Dear editor, and fellow South Africans,
The problem with journalists who are paid to write stories to discredit people for political reasons is that they report no facts and do no research of their own but regurgitate the lies fed to them by their handlers.
Let me begin by stating that I am aware of the reason why Dudu Myeni is continually attacked by the media on false allegations. It’s because she is the executive chairperson of the Jacob Zuma Foundation.
She is a seasoned businesswoman but not a politician. And from my research she is not aspiring to be one either. Hence the ructions of South Africa’s ever changing political landscape should not idolize her.
I note the article, “Bankrupt SAA should have broken even this year. Dudu Myeni had other plans”, written by the Citizen reporter, Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni, on 18 May 2018. Simnikiwe is using Ms Myeni’s name to gain fame. Her reportage is false, unethical, lacks research and a disgrace to the cause of journalism for the following reasons:
1. I have found proof that Myeni was not axed from the position of the Chair of the South African Airways (SAA) board. She served longer than any other person in that position and in fact completed her term of service. Since Myeni is now considering taking legal action, Simnikiwe and the Citizen will have to produce the sacking letter to substantiate the relevant claim.
2. Former President Thabo Mbeki appointed Mr Saki Macozoma to head Transnet and the SAA. Macozoma, having installed himself as the chairman of the SAA, stumbled across the name of Coleman Andrews who was a member of Bain Capital owned by Mitt Romney. Macozoma offered Andrews the job in 1998 of fixing the SAA because it was then bleeding by just over R500 billion. The fact that Andrews was appointed to fix the SAA in 1998 tells you that the airline was already in trouble – long before Myeni’s arrival.
3. A significant part of Andrews’ demands was a double bonus structure. This entailed the payment of US $1.25 million annually and an additional bonus based on the SAA’s profitability. On top of that, Macozoma offered Andrews a few millions worth of shares in the SAA without informing the cabinet of this and bought him a 6-bedroom mansion in Bryanston with tax payers money. Myeni was not there.
4. Upon his arrival Andrews appointed the management consultancies, Bain and McKinsey. Nine months later their solution was to sell off a few aeroplanes and with a blink of an eye there was a R350 million profit for the SAA. The final bill for the consulting services was R224 million – and Bain got R208.9 million. There was a Minister and a Portfolio Committee for SAA’s oversight. Evidently, the white man’s sins are concealed and the black woman is used as the scapegoat.
5. Please pay extra attention here. A part of Andrews’ contract was to get a bonus when the national carrier made a profit. What is the net effect of Andrews’ aeroplane sales? If people are honest in their reporting, they would question the reasons for the sale of the aircraft and who benefited from it? Why does the media not peruse the facts which was published extensively and presented to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA).
6. Why does no one report that the board led by Myeni instituted 3 forensic investigations into maladministration at the SAA? Why do you not question why one company, Bidvest, which the Minister of State Owned Enterprises has shares in, do business with the SAA? Also, why are the Miami offices in the United States of America (USA) still operating at the SAA’s cost and tax payers money? All this was exposed. Ministers know this and parliament has all these reports. Furthermore why does Bidvest supply the toilet cleaning services inside aircrafts; and the food, laundry services and cleaning equipment at the SAA while the small to medium size black companies get no work from the parastatal?
7. Andrews never completed his contractual term of service and Fin24 reported as follows:
“A scandal has surfaced in South Africa over the (then) R232.2 million ($29m) remuneration package of SAA’s former chief executive Coleman Andrews and allegations of corporate mismanagement. It follows revelations about Andrews’s remuneration and R243.1m paid to consultants he appointed, including R208.9m to US consultants Bain & Company and R118m paid to nine expatriates appointed to key SAA positions”.
8. Out of a fleet of sixty aeroplanes, the SAA only owned nine. The rest of the aeroplanes it used were, and still are, leased from people who bought them some years ago. As a result of the decision to strip the national carrier of its assets, it pays R3.5bn per annum for leasing costs in dollars to companies around the globe, some of which are in Australia and Ireland. We believe you will study the annual reports to back these facts.
9. On the Ernest & Young & ENS / Selela Xabiso forensic audits
The forensic audits highlighted that the biggest areas from which the losses emanate are procurement and the Pilots Evergreen Contract costs. The national carrier had a budget of R24bn of which only 1.7% goes to black-owned companies (the Soros-funded Africheck investigated and confirmed that it is 1.7% and not 2% as we had thought). The Ernest & Young (E&Y) forensic report said that 60% of the “contracts” were corrupt – and these were the longest and highest in value. In this regard they operated with no contracts and were over-paid. Here are just some of the cases involving failure to follow correct tender processes, overpayment, no explanations for payment and collusion at the SAA on the part of operational staff:
a. There was overpayment in the case of Kintetsu World Express (KWE) whose contract was “concluded informally” on 28 August 2014; and evidence of possible collusion between the SAA officials and KWE.
b. There was overpayment in the case of the SAA’s contract with Société internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques (S.I.T.A.) in 2013.
c. There was failure to follow correct tender processes and overpayment in respect of air chefs’ contracts with ADJ Maintenance, Vizzini Motors and First Garments. CAE Inc was paid R1.1m while invoices for 2013 reflected R8.2m. Where is the explanation for this? Parliament Portfolio committees and SCOPA have all these reports.
d. There was overpayment of Havas Worldwide by R53, 767, 139.64. There were allegations of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between SAA and Allen Aircraft Radio Corp (AAR). The awarding of the contract is said to be based on a potentially corrupt relationship between the AAR and SAA officials. The E&Y’s preliminary investigation has found that there is merit in the allegation and recommends further investigation. In his resignation letter SAAT board member, Barry Parsons, said in reference to this deal that ”there is clearly a hidden agenda somewhere in this relationship and it requires urgent independent investigation”. The sudden resignation of the former Audit Committee Chairperson of the SAA, who was at the forefront of the AAR contract approval, has not been questioned.
e. The Independent Group reported on a case of SAA executives who had manipulated procurement procedures to benefit a contractor who got a R1.4bn tender. The number of companies whose contracts have been extended without due process is endless.
10. On the role of chairperson vis a vis executives
There is a clear division of responsibilities between the chairperson and group CEO and executives. Interestingly the media has blatantly refused to apportion failure to implement the strategy, on SAA executives. No chairperson of any parastatal has ever managed strategy.
It’s strange but predictable considering South Africa’s political makeup that Andrews, the Minister of Public Enterprises, the group CEO and the executives are not called upon to account but journalists relentlessly suggest that Myeni could be responsible for the injuries of the SAA. Only a fool can be made to believe that.
It’s clear that Myeni’s silence has allowed some to consider her as a lame duck. But it appears that she is no such thing. She has been open for interviews and has created awareness on what has put the SAA where it is and, in this respect, who has really captured it..
She has told it all through many platforms including via parliament’s Portfolio Committee sessions. But the media has continued to lie about her. It’s time for the truth South Africa!
Yours in transformation,
North West University, Researcher
Training Research and Advocacy for development
South Africa and Ghana