Imagine the brief that went out from finance minister Malusi Gigaba to the head-hunters for the CEO position at SAA:

"Able to do a huge financial ambulance job, quickly. Prepared to kick-start an inherited turnaround plan(s). Ready to make instant senior appointments. Can deal with directors who did not appoint the CEO and may or may not constitute a lame-duck board, and a chair who has been protected game. Manage an organisation that has been bleeding experience and skills. Raise morale. Politically savvy enough to know who holds the real power. Prepared to work to impossible deadlines."

Well, we cannot tell if Vuyani Jarana, appointed the first permanent CEO at SAA in more than two years, is up to this. He is not much known outside Vodacom, where he was a divisional manager and previously chief operating officer, and he has no experience of the airline industry.

We also do not know if Jarana asked for and received assurances on who he would be reporting to — the minister or the SAA board. And did he ask to be taken into the minister’s confidence on when SAA will be handed another R13bn of taxpayers’ money? Has he spoken to the minister about SAA’s unsustainably bloated staff complement?

Cautious optimism is in order. We can only wish Jarana luck.

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