The South African Treasury on Tuesday, dismissed claims that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was set to fire embattled South African Airways (SAA) chairperson Dudu Myeni.
Instead, National Treasury has accused fringe group Black First Land First (BLF) led by Andile Mngxitama as the purveyor of the fake message being circulated.
However, the message sent via messenger service, WhatsApp, to African News Agency came via President Jacob Zuma’s son, Edward. It said that a “highly placed source” at the airline revealed that, “Pravin Gordhan will finally fire the chairperson of the SAA Board, Dudu Myeni, at a board meeting expected to be held today”.
“Gordhan is fed up with Myeni, who has been frustrating his plan to sell SAA to white capital. Once Myeni is removed, it is said SAA will rapidly be sold to both the national and international white monopoly capital,” said the message.
Edward Zuma told ANA: “Pravin wants Dudu out. We all know that as she is a stumbling block to his master’s agenda of running down state owned enterprises then selling them to their friends for close to nothing.”
When contacted telephonically, Treasury spokesperson Yolisa Tyansti told ANA that she was aware of the text and was told the allegations contained in the message were from Mngxitama.
Tyantsti said there was no board meeting scheduled for Tuesday.
“There is no Board meeting, the minister is here and is busy in other meetings for the budget,” she said.
When asked if Myeni was to be fired irrespective of a board meeting taking place, Tyantsi said: “What is the basis? I don’t even know what they are talking about.”
“The person who is alleging that Dudu Myeni is going to be fired is best placed to answer the question and to give the reasons why he is saying Dudu is going to be fired,” said Tyantsi. She said she had heard of “nothing to the effect” of Myeni being fired, and reiterated that Gordon was busy with budget meetings.
On Tuesday morning, BLF tweeted: “All eyes will be at the outcomes of the SAA Board meeting today, which is expected to be attended by Pravin Gordhan”.
Responding via email later, Tyantsi told ANA: “No comment. If Mngxitama suspects anything untoward he has a responsibility to report the matter to the relevant authorities in terms of PCCA [Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act]”.
When ANA told Mngxitama that Treasury denied a board meeting was taking place on Tuesday, he said that the meeting must have been changed because: “The news had already broken. Pravin is backing off”.
“Our view is that the board meeting seems to have either been abandoned or cancelled or postponed on the basis of the expose that we made about there being massive moves being made to privatise SAA by Treasury and Pravin Gordon,” said Mngxitama.
“The ones who appointed Pravin Gordon into his position [are the ones] whose interests he will be serving by privatising SAA. The person who is resisting privatisation of SAA is Dudu Myeni.”
Myeni did not respond to questions.