Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has launched an investigation into alleged “meddling and improper conduct” by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan in the appointment of Mango Air CEO.
Nico Bezuidenhout was appointed CEO of the low-cost airline in July and assumed the position on 1 October.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Deputy President Floyd Shivambu lodged a complaint with Mkhwebane on 28 October.
Letter to SAA board
He alleged that Gordhan “illegally instructed” Mango Board chairman, Peter Tshisevhe, through his advisor to ensure that Bezuidenhout was appointed.
Shivambu asked Mkhwebane to investigate whether Gordhan had violated the Executive Ethics Code and oath of office through his alleged involvement.
In a letter dated 15 November to the Acting Chairperson of South African Airways (SAA) Board Thandeka Mgoduso, Mkhwebane asked SAA to provide a detailed response to Shivambu’s allegations.
She also asked for documentation relating to, among others, copies of Bezuidenhout’s recruitment records, advertisement of the CEO position, candidates’ score sheets, and list of preferred candidates.
Response within 30 days
Mkhwebane wrote, “I will appreciate receipt of your response and any documentation which you believe may assist in the investigation of the matter…
“…at your earliest convenience, preferably not later than 30 days from the date of receipt of this letter, to enable me to conclude this investigation and issue a report to the President of the Republic of South Africa on the outcome thereof as soon as possible.”
The Black Business Council raised concerns about Bezuidenhout’s appointment as soon as it was announced.
In a statement, it said, “This appointment also raises questions of the fairness of the process to re-appoint Bezuidenhout as the advert looked to have been set to specifically suit him as the requirements are rumoured to have been only matric and experience in the aviation industry, for such an important role.”
Bezuidenhout allegedly overstated his qualifications in 2014 in SAA’s annual reports for two consecutive years.
An IOL report in October claimed that SAA had initially resolved to appoint Glenn Orsmond as Mango CEO, but Gordhan allegedly intervened.
SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali denied the claims, “The minister neither prescribed nor influenced the appointment of the CEO of Mango.”