SAA sets the record straight on acting CEO

Friday, March 8, 2013

Pretoria - South African Airways (SAA) has labelled questions around the qualifications of its acting chief executive officer Nico Bezuidenhout as attempts to “besmirch” his good name.

In a statement on Thursday, the airline said a media inquiry had brought to light the fact that “mischief makers” were “attempting to besmirch the good name” of the acting CEO.

“These nameless, faceless troublemakers have represented themselves to the media in question as having inside information regarding the content of job applications, personnel files, and other documents relating to Nico Bezuidenhout, acting CEO of SAA.

“They claim that some applicants for the post of SAA CEO – Bezuidenhout among them – have misrepresented their qualifications to the Board of SAA, the body responsible for identifying the airline’s new permanent CEO,” said the national carrier.

“This is utterly false,” said the airline, adding that this was a transparent attempt to harm the airline by attempting to discredit its management.

“Whatever the motivation of the anonymous sources in this matter, the result can only be an attempt at the destruction of a significant national asset belonging to the people of South Africa.”

The airline said that Bezuidenhout – who took over the position of CEO last month following the precautionary suspension of acting CEO Vuyisile Kona - had never made a secret of the fact that he did not complete his industrial psychology or transport economics studies, choosing instead to enter the world of work.

He had also not made a secret that he has completed his MBA course work, but has so far not handed in his thesis as he chose to concentrate on successfully building SAA’s low cost carrier, Mango, before completing the degree.

These facts, said the national carrier, were laid out transparently and comprehensively in all job applications and CV’s he’s ever submitted.

“Should any document, report, or other communication exist which claims anything different to the above, it was written and published without his agreement and has never had his backing.”

Bezuidenhout, who is the CEO of Mango, had been requested to oversee the SAA group’s operations since Kona’s suspension which became effective on 11 February.

Due to an editing error, SAA's 2011 and 2012 annual reports erroneously reported that Bezuidenhout had completed his degrees.

The acting CEO has been at the helm of low cost airline Mango since its launch on 30 October 2006.

Before taking the reins at Mango, Bezuidenhout headed the team responsible for SAA’s foray into e-commerce. –