What is it that Dudu Myeni has on the president? First, Jacob Zuma’s government gave Myeni the undeserved position of nonexecutive director at SA Airways (SAA) in 2009. Three years later, then public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba elevated her to chair of the ailing airline.
Myeni immediately made her presence felt. With Gigaba’s help, she started interfering in SAA’s operations, relegating trained aviation experts to rubber-stamping her decisions. That is despite the fact that her only qualification is as a teacher, with no corporate or aviation expertise.
When Gigaba resisted Myeni’s more hare-brained schemes, she had the airline shifted from public enterprises to national treasury, where she hoped finance minister Nhlanhla Nene would be more pliable. Nene wanted her replaced as SAA chair — but Zuma axed him, instead, in December 2015.
Pravin Gordhan was then forced to accommodate Myeni as chair for a year. This year, when she reached her limit of two terms, finance minister Gigaba extended her term to November 2017.
So it isn’t entirely surprising that transport minister Joe Maswanganyi now says Myeni "has been highly recommended" to be his special adviser. No prizes for guessing who recommended her.
So what is it, exactly, that Myeni has on SA’s head of state?