The headlines about Yakhe Kwinana have been making rounds on social media. This is after her grilling at the Zondo Commission on 2nd November 2020. Social media users have been making fun of a statement that she made during the session, and some have branded her as the 'fat cake lady'. However, some users do not have an idea who she is and why she is facing the commission. The details about her will shed light on the matter.
Yakhe Kwinana is the former member of the SAA board and the former chairperson of the SAA Technical board. Yakhe also served as the chairperson of the South African Airways audit and risk committee. The Zondo Commission questioned her about the tender irregularities that took place during her reign in the three positions at the South African Airways. Here is what you ought to know about her and her relations to the allegations.
Yakhe Kwinana state capture
Since August 2018, the Zondo Commission has been investigating allegations of state capture, fraud and corruption in state-owned cooperations. South African Airways is one of the entities that was placed into business rescue in late 2019. It is one of the state-owned entities that are under investigation. Some of the witnesses alleged that Ms Yakhe Kwinana had been involved in acts of corruption during her tenure. Therefore, she was summoned to testify at the Zondo Commission.
Yakhe Kwinana R1 billion five-year contract
On 2nd November 2020, Yakhe Kwinana told the Zondo Commission that she was unaware that her board approved the R1 billion five-year contract with Swissport. She went further to state that she thought that the board was approving the terms and conditions of the contract only.
The commission went further to question her relationship with Vuyisile Ndzeku, the director of JM Aviation and Swissport. Initially, she had stated that the relationship was strictly professional, although she said that Vuyisile would ask her for advice regarding his businesses.
According to the allegations that were forwarded to the Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, Vuyisile Ndzeku had received an R28 million payment. Allegedly, the transaction was made after the contract was approved, and through JM Aviation, he paid Ms Kwinana.
As Ms Kwinana tried to defend herself, the Deputy Chief Justice interjected saying,
Miss Kwinana, you’re a chartered accountant. You said you approved this contract. Initially, you said you didn’t know about this contract. You’ve shown a resolution [and] you accept that you approved the contract. Now, what are you saying? You’re saying you don’t know the contract’s terms and conditions.
Yakhe Kwinana 30% black empowerment policy
According to the evidence before the commission, Swissport was opposed to a BEE deal worth 30%. According to estimations, the company would lose R90 million of its yearly earnings from SAA. However, Yakhe defended the claims stating that the 30% set aside policy was a genuine move as it was a way of bridging the gap between the black and the whites in the country. When asked why she implemented it despite the national treasury stating that it was unlawful, Yakhe defended herself by saying,
We tried to implement it before we were reprimanded by the National Treasury.
Yakhe Kwinana allegedly threatened Masimba Dahwa
On 3rd November 2020, Yakhe appeared before the commission for a second day to respond to the allegations that she threatened Masimba Dahwa. Dahwa initially told the commission that Dudu Myeni and Yakhe threatened him to sign SAA's contracts with Engen and Swissport. Dahwa went ahead to state the duo had said to him that the EFF would engage in protests to ensure that he lost his position because he is Zimbabwean.
Attending a meeting without minutes?
Yakhe Kwinana denied the allegations and stated that she did not communicate with Dahwa, the procurement officer, nor attended any meeting with him. She went further to affirm her words by saying,
I don't remember the meeting at all chair, that's why I was saying for such a long meeting, that would start at 10 am and end at 4 pm, there would be minutes that would be approved by the people who are in that meeting.
By now, you have an idea on who Ms Yakhe Kwinana is and why she is facing the Zondo Commission. If you wish to know more about the situation, be sure to check out the proceedings of the sessions.
In the testimony, she mentioned that she was unaware of some of the things that she was signing off on. The one thing that left Mzansi making fun of her was the analogy that she gave about her preference to buy fat cakes from her daughter as opposed to buying from her neighbour. She used the analogy to illustrate why a contract was awarded to SAA air chefs at the expense of LSG Sky Chefs.