- Dudu Myeni has been accused of sinking a R1.4 billion SAA deal at the last minute
- The North Gauteng High Court heard how the former chairperson sent a text message to call things off
- Briefly.co.za explains former SAA CEO Nico Bezuidenhout's bombshell testimony
Former South African Airways CEO Nico Bezuidenhout appeared in the High Court on Monday to discuss Dudu Myeni's tenure as chairperson.
Briefly.co.za reported that Myeni is currently facing a court application by the Organisation Against Tax Abuse and the SAA Pilots Association to have the former chair declared a delinquent director.
At the centre of their case against Myeni lies a failed deal with Emirates Airlines from back in 2015. Documents revealed that SAA had been approached with a 'proposal for an enhanced commercial relationship' with Emirates.
This would include benefits like an expanded code-sharing relationship and an annual revenue guarantee of R1.4 billion, allowing for SAA to operate a daily service between Johannesburg and Dubai.
Aviation experts and the rest of Myeni's board approved, according to Bezuidenhout, but the deal kept falling through despite numerous attempts to get it approved.
The CEO had left for France in order to sign the deal two days later, the date was chosen to coincide with the Paris Airshow, with both SAA and Emirates hoping the signing would garner attention from the media.
The day before the event, however, Bezuidenhout was forced to inform Emirates he hadn't received permission to sign off.
The CEO's Emirates counterparts vowed to escalate the matter to former president Jacob Zuma, with Bezuidenhout commenting:
“The next morning I got a call from Ms Myeni at about 2am. She was furious and accused [me] of having embarrassed the country and the president.”
Myeni confirmed that Zuma had been contacted, with the former CEO explaining that:
“Later on, she said I should not sign the deal. She also said the president did not want me to sign the deal. I never heard the president saying it but Ms Myeni mentioned the president’s name."
A few hours later, Myeni allegedly called everything off via a WhatsApp text message:
“I then took the WhatsApp message and circulated to some of the officials who accompanied me to Paris for the signing of the deal."
The South African reports that Bezuidenhout will resume testimony on Tuesday.
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