(Adds finance ministry, own sourcing)
JOHANNESBURG, Oct 18 (Reuters) - South Africa's government
has named Johannes Bhekumuzi Magwaza as chairman of loss-making
state-owned airline South African Airways (SAA),
replacing Dudu Myeni, who was an ally of President Jacob Zuma,
the finance minister said on Thursday.
In all six board members were replaced, Finance Minister
Malusi Gigaba said in a statement without giving reasons for the
clear-out, but adding that the new board brings "in-depth
knowledge of business in both the private and public sectors".
Myeni had been reappointed in September 2016 for a year,
alongside 11 other board members.
The national carrier received state funds to repay loans in
September and has been given until the end of October to settle
5 billion rand ($374 million) of maturing debt to domestic
Credit ratings agencies have said SAA should be reformed and
cite the cost of propping it up as a threat to South Africa's
credit rating. S&P Global Ratings and Fitch have downgraded
South Africa's credit to "junk" status.
Magwaza, also known as "JB," will be joined by Nolitha
Fakude as deputy chairperson, Ahmed Bassa, Tinyiko Mhlari,
Martin Kingston and Geoff Rothschild.
Magwaza's appointment comes a day after the Public
Investment Corporation (PIC), one of the continent's largest
asset managers, said it has not ruled out investing in SAA.
The PIC manages South African government employee retirement
funds and has been in the spotlight recently after media reports
that the finance ministry requested money from the pension fund
to bail out struggling state firms.
Gigaba said in September South Africa was not planning to
raid the government pension fund to bail out struggling state
The opposition Democratic Alliance's shadow deputy minister
of finance, Alf Lees, welcomed the decision.
"Make no mistake, this reported restructuring of the SAA
board and the removal of Myeni is far too little, too late to
save the airline. There is no saving SAA," Lees said in a
($1 = 13.5661 rand)
(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla and TJ Strydom; Editing by Matthew
Lewis and Toby Chopra)
First Published: 2017-10-19 00:00:06
Updated 2017-10-19 09:18:48
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