SAA on wing and prayer as CEO joins rush for the exit
The Times Editorial: The resignation of SAA CEO Siza Mzimela yesterday was not entirely unexpected. Her departure follows the mass resignation late last month of the board, which had cited issues with the airline's shareholder - the government - as the key reason for their resignation.
Russell Loubser, the first of six SAA board members who resigned, told Moneyweb SAA deserved the government's full support.
"If you are going to maintain three national airlines through an economic downswing in a highly competitive market, then support them completely - and I mean financially, morally, emotionally, I mean in every possible way."
Suggestions that the government had been less than supportive were made clear in chairman Cheryl Carolus's parting shots when she said: "There has been a breakdown in the relationship with the shareholder. I thought we had agreed on a strategy. I'm finding it frustrating that this notion continues to exist that there is no strategic vision at SAA."
It seems Mzimela found herself at a similar juncture. In her e-mail to staff, she alluded to the fact that there had not "always been a uniform understanding and appreciation" of running an airline in a competitive environment.
While Mzimela moves on, the problems besetting the airline will remain, despite the R5-billion guarantee from the Treasury.
The question is whether S A can realistically continue maintaining a national carrier. And whether a developing country in exceptionally difficult economic circumstances should be holding on to its state-owned entities.
Before Riah Phiyega's appointment as national police commissioner, President Jacob Zuma asked her to devise a strategy for the multitude of parastatals. That long-awaited report has yet to see the light.
If we are able to dissect the viability of nationalisation, surely we can apply that same passion and vigour to finally deciding what to do with the money-draining entities that South Africa can ill afford.