SAA: Board won’t cover up criminality

Cape Town - The board of South African Airways (SAA) said on Monday that it wants to assure the public that it does not condone nor will it cover up any acts of impropriety.

It referred to recent media claims, which appear to be based on leaked internal reports.

In a statement released on Monday, SAA cautioned against "making conclusions hastily". It said the board wants to discourage "casting aspersions against any individuals on the strength of incomplete reports".  

"Any action the board could take against anyone accused of criminality must have factual basis and be legally sustainable," according to SAA.
 
"It is important to understand the status these reports enjoy within the business and the processes the company has embarked upon before conclusions are made on the basis of any aspect of such reports."
 
SAA said it had previously commissioned investigations to look into financial losses incurred. Focus points included among other topics procurement - specifically contract negotiation and management - and asset management.

"A number of reports were subsequently generated and must be finalised as soon as possible. The board has looked into those reports and concluded that, as matters stand, they are incomplete.

"The process of finalising these reports, including soliciting input from all affected parties and executive management, has since commenced. This is not only standard practice, but a requirement in accordance with principles of natural justice," SAA said.

It undertook to present the reports to the board for consideration and action, once they are finalised.
 
"The board will inform the nation of the outcomes and any action necessary once the outstanding work has been concluded and the final reports tabled," SAA said.

City Press reported on Sunday that SAA has paid R4.5bn to overseas contractors in terms of long-term contracts.

The paper claims that two forensic reports in its possession reveal how SAA Technical, which maintains and services the fleets of the national airline as well as several other carriers, "flouted procurement regulations and extended contracts several times without going to tender".

City Press also claims there are indications that inside information was given to at least one of the foreign companies to help it to hold on to its “evergreen” contract.

A few weeks ago SAA received a R2.3bn bailout to settle a Standard Chartered Bank loan.

The Democratic Alliance issued an ultimatum to Deputy Finance Minister Sfiso Buthelezi on Sunday. It is giving him five days to release forensic reports believed to contain "damning details of gross mismanagement at SAA".

On Friday SAA told Fin24 it is simplistic to blame the chair of the board, Dudu Myeni, for all the airline's woes.

This was after the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse said it welcomed indications from Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba that a successor for Myeni will be appointed at the upcoming annual general meeting in August.

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