'Coleman Andrews collapsed SAA,' Dudu Myeni tells state capture probe

Mawande AmaShabalala Political journalist
Dudu Myeni said those wanting to determine what went wrong at SAA need to go way back to the late 1990s, when the airline was under the stewardship of American Coleman Andrews.
Dudu Myeni said those wanting to determine what went wrong at SAA need to go way back to the late 1990s, when the airline was under the stewardship of American Coleman Andrews.
Image: Alon Skuy

Former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni says it was Coleman Andrews, former CEO of the national carrier, who was responsible for the collapse of the state-owned company.

Myeni was giving testimony at the state capture commission on Thursday.

She said attention should be paid to activities that took place at SAA during Andrews'  tenure.

Myeni mentioned this as she continued picking and choosing which questions, posed by commission evidence leader advocate Kate Hofmeyr, to answer or not.

Andrews, she added, “collapsed SAA” by selling its fleet when he was CEO. Therefore, she charged, if any of the former public enterprises ministers who were SAA shareholders were serious about corruption, locating it during the tenure of Andrews would be a good start.

Asked if former public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba should have taken complaints about her leadership style levelled by her board colleagues seriously, she defended herself.

“I wish the minister [Gigaba] or any other minster would have taken [on] the matter of the collapsing of the South African Airways during the tenure of Coleman Andrews, who sold the fleet of SAA, putting it into the deepest challenge, with the decisions they took then,” said Myeni.

“I am hearing that the minister took something that was written by the board members [against me], but none of the ministers I reported to took seriously the matter of corruption at SAA, financial losses in the organisation as well as onerous lease agreements that exist at SAA.

“Coleman Andrews, the then CEO of SAA under the leadership of the board, under other structures like the parliamentary committee and the minister, sold and leased aircraft  that belonged to SAA and registered that he is turning the airline around.

“I am saying, the same energy and seriousness that is being emphasised about me today has never been the same energy demonstrated then,” she added.

“The same board members never raised issue about evergreen contracts, 90% of contracts being for predominantly white companies and only 2% of the total procurement spend of R30bn going to black people.”

Andrews found himself being the target of witnesses this week as Myeni was not the first to take aim at him.

Former SAA Technical board chairperson Yakhe Kwinana also laid the blame of SAA's financial woes at the door of the American.

Kwinana said on Monday: “I had the opportunity of looking at SAA financials for 18 years, from 2000 up until 2017. I want to bring it to the attention of South Africans that since 2000 there is not a single year until 2017 that SAA incurred operating profits, where the revenue is enough to cover the expenses without selling other items.

“We all know that in 2000-2001, all the fleet of SAA was sold to finance operating activities. We all know the story of Coleman Andrews, who went away with a R250m golden handshake despite the fact that SAA never incurred operating profits since 2000.”

Myeni's testimony continues.  

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