By Pinky Khoabane
IN the week that South African Airways (SAA) appeared before parliamentarians and its appearance didn’t attract the usual headlines of a dysfunctional and corrupt entity, the Sunday Times had to find something to bring SAA’s chairperson into the headlines.
You see, several things have happened since SAA last presented to Parliament last year. Former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has left and the issue of the forensic audit into corruption of procurement at SAA is beginning to take hold. As we reported here last week, an Ernst & Young report has exposed rampant corruption at the national carrier – 60% of the contracts awarded are corrupt and none of the usual noises from opposition parties including so-called civil society groups like OUTA have challenged this corruption. And this is why. SAA has a procurement budget of R24bn and only 2% goes to black suppliers. The E&Y report says 60% of contracts it audited were secured without due process. Many of the largest and longest contracts at the entity are secured corruptly. This therefore means the bulk of the 98% contracts, which are in the hands of white-owned companies are corrupt. http://uncensoredopinion.co.za/why-is-the-rampant-corruption-at-saa-protected/
UnCensored has called for the protection of Black executives who are being hounded by white-owned media, opposition parties and dubious civil society groups for nothing else but transforming the industries in which they operate. This transformation means sharing the procurement spend with black people. There is much resistance from the white owned companies and many leading this transformation are vilified. Among them are Brian Molefe’s excellent record at parastatals and Eskom, Sars Commissioner Tom Moyane, Professor Chris Malikane who is the advisor to Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba on radical economic transformation, our unsung hero Chairperson of Competition Commission Tembinkosi Bonakele who is exposing the rot of white monopoly capital, Myeni, and many more. http://uncensoredopinion.co.za/must-protect-chris-malikane-attacks-protectors-white-privilege/
We therefore have a vested interest in these individuals and how they are persecuted in the media. We are of the belief that they are not part of the group of black surrogates of white monopoly capitalists who have become the mouth pieces of their masters for the crumbs they get from BEE deals. UnCensored has launched a complaint with Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to investigate the corrupt SAA contracts. We will do the same with all SOEs and government departments that refuse to divulge details of these long contracts which benefit white-owned companies. Eskom refused to tell us the value of some of the contracts held by these monopoly capitalists, some of which go on for fifty years.
In an article scheduled to be published tomorrow, the Sunday Times will attempt to bring SAA Chairperson Dudu Myeni into claims of a meeting at which she met President Jacob Zuma, former Eskom’s Board Chairman Zola Tsotsi, and Nick Linnell and a decision was taken to suspend four Eskom executives.
The Sunday Times journalist, Sabelo Skiti has either been cagey with details of this meeting or his is a fishing expedition aimed at character assassination. It was initially a query about the meeting in which the President, Tsotsi, Linnell and Myeni were present.
“Mrs Myeni, Sabelo Skiti here at the Sunday Times. Was hoping to have a chat with you regarding an alleged meeting between Mr Zola Tsotsi and President Jacob Zuma in which yourself and Mr Nick Linnell were present. Could you please call me back, am hoping to chat before we go to print with an article about this ma’am. Just neeed to get an idea of whether you remember the meeting or not.”
Pressed for clarity this was the response:
“Good morning Ms Myeni,
Sabelo Skiti here at the Sunday Times. We are working on an article to do with the 2015 suspension of four executives at state power utility, Eskom. Previously it had been reported and also announced by Eskom that Mr Nick Linnell, your erstwhile colleague on Mhlathuze Water’s board and the person you hired at SAA as an advisor would lead the inquiry into Eskom in 2015.
We have now received information from several impeccable sources that in fact Mr Linnell, as well as yourself, were present in a meeting between President Jacob Zuma and then Eskom board chair Mr Zola Tsotsi in which the decision was made to suspend four Eskom executives (Group Capital Executive Dan Marokane, Group Commercial and Technical Director Matshela Koko, Group Chief Executive Tshediso, Matona, Group Financial Director Tsholofelo Molefe). Previously it has been reported that Mr Tsotsi told Eskom’s board that Mr Linnell was recommended to him by President Zuma, and with this information that he was actually in the meeting with yourself and President, it sheds new light into his involvement in the saga.
We would like to offer you the opportunity to:
· Confirm of deny your presence in the meeting with President Zuma, Tsotsi, and Linnell?
· Explain your presence in that meeting?
· Was it you who introduced Mr Linnell to the President?
· Were you not concerned, being someone who is au fait with corporate governance, that his presence in that meeting and his subsequent recommendation presented a conflict?
· We understand that Mr Tsotsi in that meeting was informed of an intelligence report which implicated three executives, Marokane, Koko, and Matona, in a plot to cause load shedding? This report was compiled by Duduzane Zuma, we are told.
Please note we intend to publish an article around these developments in this week’s edition of the Sunday Times and would appreciate a response by 2pm today. Please feel free to contact me on the details below if you would like to talk about this”.
Myeni to ST:
Thank you for affording me the opportunity to respond to your claims.
(1) Meeting in question
Kindly provide me with the date, place and time of the meeting and details of the convenor and for what purpose it was called. I will then check my diary and revert.
In addition, kindly provide the minutes of the meeting to enable me to familiarise myself with the particular details of the said meeting.
(2) SAA is my focus
My focus is on SAA and not any other state owned entity. I therefore have nothing to do with Eskom.
(3) Labour Law & Suspension of Employees
You may not be familiar with this country’s labour laws but let me remind you that employees cannot be suspended on any other basis but their conduct. Kindly familiarise yourself with the law so that you’re not misled into thinking decisions to suspend employees can be taken willy-nilly.
I look forward to your response regarding the first point which is critical to your story. Failure to provide these details before you publish will mean you have not afforded me the opportunity to respond fully to your query. This is against journalistic code of ethics. If you publish this story without giving me those details, I will approach the press ombudsman”.
ST: 1. We are told the meeting was in Durban in early February of 2015. The venue was The President’s house there. We are not sure of the exact time.
2. We know you are SAA chair and that is why we found it strange that you would be in this meeting.
3. We are quite familiar with labour laws as related to suspension of employees, and again we are asking because what is alleged to have transpired is unusual and newsworthy. I’m sure you would agree that it is not entirely out of the question that a South African SOE would suspend an employee will nilly. Why else would there be so many executives in the country getting million rand hand shakes to walk away after being suspended. Looking forward to hearing from you ma’am.
You have still not provided me with the full details of the meeting in question.
(1) What is early February – provide the exact date please.
(2) Please provide the convenor of this meeting.
(3) Provide the exact venue of this meeting. What do you mean the venue was in Durban at “The President’s house there”.
(4) Where are the minutes of this meeting?
(5) Labour Laws.
Im happy you say you are au fait with labour laws even though your explanation doesn’t convince me. But that is not the crux of my worries. Mine is to say I am not involved with Eskom and its operations.
ST: Ma’am. The meeting was the President’s residence in February. My understanding was that Mr Tsotsi was called to Durban to meet with the President, we do not know who convened it. We also have no idea of minutes ma’am, but I am doub ful there would be meetings for this meeting. I have noted you saying you are not involved in Eskom’s operations. That is why we were also asking about your alleged presence there.
Myeni: You have no details of this meeting for which you expect me to furnish details. Im afraid I cannot assist you in writing a story for which you don’t even have full details of.
Let me just summarise so that we are on the same page and we can finalise our discussion.
– You don’t have the time, exact venue and convenor of this meeting.
– “Your understanding is that Mr Tsotsi was called to Durban to meet with the President.” How do I get involved? You don’t disclose who contacted me to get involved in this meeting.
– You assume there would not be minutes and your assumption has no basis as you have not disclosed it.
– We are in agreement that Im SAA Chairperson and have nothing to do with Eskom.
– In short, yours is a story based on rumour as you have no specific details.
– I reserve my right to approach the Press Ombudsman if you fail to disclose details of this meeting and go ahead and publish the story.
What Services did Mike Linnell offer to Mhlathuze where Myeni served as Board Member before she came to SAA?
Linnell’s firm offered legal advice to Mhlathuze Water and SAA. Myeni denies knowing him personally and says she found him at Mhlathuze. Khandani Msibi, Goup CEO of Numsa Investment Company (NIC) confirmed he recommended Linnell to Mhlathuze. “When I was requested to to provide assistance to Mhlathuze Water, I asked Nick to take over the project. Nick Linnel is a lawyer I used during the turnaround of NIC and he has good investigative skills,” Msibi said.
But why is Linnell the a subject of such media attention and not KPMG, PWC, Deloitte & Touche, Ernst & Young or any of the firms that provide legal and auditing services? These institutions consult to SAA, Mhlathuze, Eskom, Treasury, SARS and many other SOEs? They have actually captured state procurement. Why are they not an issue for media attention and Linnell is? The answer lies in media’s cherry-picking their stories and turning a blind-eye and protecting the cartels, in this case the auditing cartel. South Africa’s key economic problem is the inability to implement a sustainable inclusive economy. Several industries and sectors are dominated by a few players whose ability to dictate the terms of the market make it impossible for the democratic dividend to cascade to the majority of South Africans. But what is worse is that they are protected at every level including the media.
Corruption at SAA
The Sunday Times, despite its portrayal of itself as a fourth estate that seeks to expose corruption without fear or favour, has turned a blind eye on the corruption at SAA. When will it cover these stories?
- The Ernst & Young report that shows 60% of procurement spend is corrupt
The ANC Women’s League in calling for a judicial commission of enquiry highlighted the following areas of concern.
- – SAA spends over R10 billion per annum on Jet fuel. The suppliers for the fuel are allegedly five companies that have been solely supplying SAA with jet fuel for around 82yrs now.- Bain & Company was the largest consultancy in SAA receiving a total of R208,9m handshake after selling the Airlines Fleet under the guise of turning the Arline around 15 years ago.- Despite SAA having an approved turn around Strategy, currently government through National Treasury appointed Bain Capital, USA based company as a joint venture with South African based Abacus Advisory for a period of three years. This over R12 million contract is purported to be for the development of strategy and corporate structure.- Former CEO of SAA Coleman Andrews who received a payment of R232,2million tax free during his two-and-half years at SAA failed to disclose to the Board of SAA during his appointment that he was a founding member of Bain & Company together with his wife.- SAA is not flying to Florida in the USA but there are workers (ghost workers) in SAA books and call centre at Florida (USA). This also extend beyond Florida-USA but to various countries.- Only 2% of the R24 billion of annual procurement spent is on black suppliers.
– For over 15yrs there are contracts that have been running on month to month basis and extension of contracts excludes incoming of any new suppliers.
– Ernest and Young report that uncovered corruption and irregular awarding of tenders is kept away from public domain and no action taken against all those who are fingered in the report.
– All aircrafts are being leased internationally with SAA having to pay exorbitant amounts.
– Tender for ticket sales is not being advertised but unilaterally awarded to companies in the main white owned companies.
– Retired and resigned pilots from SAA are allegedly still receiving SAA benefits even after being employed by other airlines. This is due to an evergreen agreement contract signed in the 90’s.
– Lack of employment equity:
*Of the 225 Senior Captains: 217 are white males, 4 black males and 4 white females.
* of the 116 Captains: 108 are white males, 3 black males, 2 coloured males,1 Indian male, 1 white female and 1 Indian female.
* Of the 288 Senior First Officers: 187 are white males, 22 black males, 21 Indian males,16 coloured males, 38 white females, 2 Indian females and 2 coloured females.
* Of the 130 First Officers: 43 are white males, 32 black males, 22 Indian males, 10 coloured males, 17 white females, 5 African females and 1 Indian female.
*Of the 18 Ground Managers: 10 are white males, 3 Indian males, 3 white females and 2 black females.
*Of 21 Pilot managers: 14 are white males, 5 black males, 1 coloured male, 1 Indian male, 3 white females and 2 black females.