Dossier against airline boss still with minister

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

Public Enterprise Minister Brigitte Mabandla was still studying the document containing serious allegations against Khaya Ngqula, chief executive of the loss-making national carrier, South African Airways.

Spokesman Ayanda Shezi said yesterday that Mabandla was in possession of the document and would be consulting with her peers and that the department is expected to release a statement today.

Sunday Times reported yesterday that Ngqula would be investigated by the government.

This comes after the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) submitted complaints and "serious allegations", including tender irregularities, to Mabandla.

This involved SAA's catering deal worth R3,5 billion with Servair consortium which is linked to Vusi Sithole, said to be business partner of Ngqula's wife Mbali Gasa.

Gasa is a former beauty queen.

Satawu secretary-general Randall Howard said the union had been keeping an eye on the affairs of the carrier for a while.

"Workers at the airline expressed concern at what was going on at the airline, and we decided to put a document of complaints and allegations to the public enterprise minister," said Howard.

He declined to divulge the employees' concerns.

He said the minister was told in a meeting about everything and the management of the airline.

The airline had embarked on a cost cutting exercise since 2007, but had been suffering year-on-year losses.

"Employees agreed to take a salary freeze during the 2008-2009 financial year, but management awarded themselves retention bonuses in the guise of preventing people from leaving the business.

"This is immoral and unethical because the business is bleeding as a result," he said.

He also said that Ngqula must resign as "he has lost passion for the business and is surrounded by continued controversy".

SAA spokesman Robyn Chalmers said Servair was the preferred bidder, but that "the contract has not been finalised yet".