Pravin Gordhan. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Pravin Gordhan. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

The ANC Youth League in eThekwini has called on President Jacob Zuma to immediately fire Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, for allegedly failing to transform the ailing South African Airways (SAA).

The league has joined the ANC Women’s League’s call for an investigation of alleged "internal and external forces" allegedly working to derail transformation at the national carrier.

The two leagues’ call was likely to resonate with SAA’s controversial board chairperson, Dudu Myeni, who placed "transformation" at the centre of her tenure at the airline.

She told City Press in November that she viewed transformation as very important and that military veterans, women, people with disabilities and young people were at the top of the list of the airline’s transformation targets.

Myeni was retained as board chairperson in 2016 — allegedly at Jacob Zuma’s insistence — following a standoff between Gordhan and the airline’s board over the finalisation of government guarantees needed to keep SAA in the air.

"For us, as the Youth League, we believe Minister Pravin has not at all assisted, as he was envisaged to assist, in delivering transformation," regional spokesperson Thulisi Ndlela said.

The league was calling for a judicial commission of inquiry to be established to investigate Gordhan.

The Treasury was not immediately available for comment.

Gordhan is currently in Davos attending the annual World Economic Forum (WEF).

Last week the ANC Women’s League said it had noted an alarming number of reports suggesting that "forces" were fighting transformation in terms of employment equity and procurement, with the aim of ensuring that only white men occupied senior positions, with white suppliers also remaining the major beneficiaries of tenders.

The women’s league said it would push either for a judicial commission of inquiry or a parliamentary inquiry into the airline, and would meanwhile push for the airline to do business only with suppliers that were more than 50% black-and women-owned.

The league was apparently referring to reports that included the appointment of US-based Bain & Company to advise on a possible merger, as well as the alleged continued lack of transformation among staff and pilots, and an allocation of just 2% of the R24bn annual procurement budget to black suppliers.

The Youth League in eThekwini said on Thursday that there were three people on the SAA board who worked for companies in which Gordhan was alleged to own shares.

"We see this as a gross violation and a conflict of interest, and given that he will not excuse his private interests, he must excuse himself in the public interest," Ndlela said.

The youth league wanted the proposed inquiry to investigate to what extent Gordhan had been "captured by capital".

"We believe as the youth league that, given the allegation and the seriousness of the allegations, it is important for this matter to be given due regard. But in the meantime he must be fired. The man must just go."

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