Buthelezi denies that Dudu Myeni’s term extension was requested by President Zuma

Deputy Minister of Finance Sfiso Buthelezi

Deputy Finance Minister Sfiso Buthelezi has on Wednesday rebuffed assertions that South African Airways (SAA) chairperson Dudu Myeni’s term was extended following a direct request by President Jacob Zuma.

Buthelezi alongside SAA executives appeared before Parliament’s standing committee on finance Wednesday.

“As to whether anybody gave the Minister a directive to extend [the term] it is categorically no,” said Buthelezi responding to the question posed by DA MP David Maynier.

Buthelezi reiterated to the committee that Myeni, whose term as board chairperson was meant to conclude early this month, would be extended until SAA’s annual general meeting, scheduled for 3 November.

“There is a board evaluation and the minister wanted to look at the board holistically,” said Buthelezi.

The deputy minister added that Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba had obtained a legal opinion before making the decision.

“Lawyers can read the same section and come to different conclusions but the minister received legal advice that he can do it,” he said.

EFF MP Floyd Shivambu was however critical of the decision saying that Myeni has served three terms already and disputed that SAA’s memorandum of incorporation allows for the extension of Myeni’s term.

“You can choose from the existing non-executive directors because if you insist that a person who was irregularly appointed presides over SAA process would mean that the decisions taken are not legal decisions,” said Shivambu.

The national airline is reportedly due for a recapitalisation worth R10 billion and Shivambu said the airline could not afford to have an “illegally” appointed chair to oversee the process.

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Committee chairperson, Yunus Carrim, added that the extension of the chairperson’s term was the executives prerogative.

“We can’t prescribe to you but we can recommend and propose to you.We can all draw our conclusions on why this has been done but on the surface, it’s been done because there is an AGM pending in October and she should remain,” said Carrim.

Myeni, who is in Cape Town, was not present in Parliament as she reportedly had a tooth removed yesterday while Gigaba could not attend due to Cabinet meetings.

Related: Opposition targets Zuma over SAA, Myeni

-Siphiwe Mchunu