Gordhan's leaked submission reveals Zuma's meddling in decision making at SAA
JOHANNESBURG - Former President Jacob Zuma's meddling in decision making at ailing national carrier the South African Airways (SAA) has come to light in an affidavit submitted to the Zondo Commission of Inquiry probing state capture.
In a submission by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, he says it's evident that former board chairperson Dudu Myeni had Zuma's ear and used him to help her get her way.
Ironically, Gordhan is now tasked with saving the airline which has been on the brink of financial collapse.
Gordhan is only expected to testify before the inquiry next week, but his submission was leaked to the media late on Wednesday night.
The minister says when he took over as Finance Minister for the second time in December 2015, his immediate priority was dealing with a proposed restructuring deal with Airbus that had been approved by his predecessor, Nhlanhla Nene.
The purchase of 10 A320 aircraft would be swapped for the lease of five A330-300s.
But Gordhan says Myeni wanted to change the deal to buy the planes instead.
It would have cost the airline around R603 million at the time and cause it to default on its debt repayments.
In the same month of his re-appointment, Gordhan says Zuma phoned him asking whether what Myeni wanted was doable.
Gordhan says it was clear Myeni had contacted the former President and he explained to him that the fiscus could not afford the pre-payments.
Eventually, the swap went ahead as approved by Nene.
Gordhan says prior to his appointment, progress in replacing the SAA board had been slow and a compromise was reached for Myeni to serve another year.