Former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni will survive the application by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) and SAA Pilots’ Association (Saapa) to declare her a delinquent director.
This was response of Myeni’s attorney Daniel Mantsha in the North Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, on Wednesday.
The parties are alleging that Myeni is responsible for plunging the national airline into a financial crisis.
Mantsha was confident that Myeni’s accusers had failed to make a strong enough case against her to justify a high court ruling declaring her a delinquent director.
“This case was simply an ego battle between SAA executives and board members,” Mantsha said.
He was adamant that the court was not likely to rule in favour of Outa and Saapa.
Mantsha made these remarks despite alleged evidence that Myeni had ignored two instructions from two former finance ministers, Nhlanhla Nene and Pravin Gordhan, to sign the SAA/Airbus deal.
Nene had officially approved a deal in July 2015.
The court heard that Myeni refused to sign it. She allegedly wanted African Aircraft Leasing Company to complete the deal with Airbus, a proposal Nene rejected.
Gordhan issued a similar instruction to Myeni on December 15, 2015, a day after he was reappointed as finance minister following the axing of Nene on December 9 that year.
Gordhan, in a letter to Myeni, wrote that a considerable amount of “speculation which fuelled the crisis we witnessed last week centred on SAA”, saying state-owned companies were certainly one of the key risks to the fiscal framework and SAA was foremost among them, given its “unstable financial position”.
In his first day of office, Gordhan supported the signing of the SAA/Airbus deal. However, he organized a meeting on December 16, 2015, with the Treasury and the SAA board to discuss the board’s proposed involvement of African Aircraft Leasing Company.
The court heard that Myeni and non-executive directors had failed to attend the meeting.
Advocate Carol Steinberg, for Outa and Saapa, told the court this had prompted Gordhan to write another letter to Myeni on December 20, 2015, in which he also ordered the signing of the SAA/Airbus deal.
“The board resolution to execute the lease transaction with Airbus must be provided to my office by 13h00 on December 21,” Gordhan instructed.
Steinberg submitted that Myeni and her non-executive directors had failed to adhere to Gordhan’s instructions, but she denied the submission. The court heard that the government was forced to use an old SAA board resolution to sign the Airbus deal.
The case continues on Friday.