The Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, has recently renewed his calls for a new board to
be appointed at South African Airways (SAA). His comments come as the national carrier’s
financial statements are delayed, owing to the Treasury not providing the guarantees
needed to convince its auditors that it is a going concern.
Minister Gordhan is quoted as stating that the guarantees will only be considered once the
airline has a new board and executive team. This‚ Gordhan told a business breakfast‚ would
require a “whole new board” of “credible people… with the right balance of skill and
According to Parmi Natesan, Executive: Centre for Corporate Governance at the Institute of
Directors in Southern Africa (IoDSA), “The IoDSA’s Board Appraisal Benchmark Study shows
that public sector boards perform less well than those in the private sector. One of the
reasons for this, sited by public sector board members themselves, is that board members
are often political appointees, and thus lack the necessary knowledge, skills, experience and
independence to fulfil their roles adequately.”
The IoDSA’s Board Appraisal Benchmark Study concluded that board composition is
probably the single most important governance factor in respect of an organisation’s future
success. Interviews with members of these boards indicate that key challenges include the
fact that incorrect criteria are used in appointing board members, lines of accountability are
not clear, and a lack of industry knowledge resulting from the high turnover of ministers,
MECs and directors.
Need for professional directors
“When it comes to appointing new members to the SAA board, it would be wise to ensure
they have the correct knowledge and skills—public-sector directors have a tough job and
the company’s performance is dependent on their competence,” Natesan says.
“Directors generally have such an important role to play, and the issues they face are so
complex, that a new cadre of professional directors is required.”
In response to this need, the IoDSA has introduced a formal professional designation for
directors, the Chartered Director(SA) or CD(SA). In addition, a structured pathway has been
designed to enable directors/aspiring directors to acquire the director competencies they
need to complement their existing business skills whilst working towards the designation.
The CD(SA) designation also enables directors to demonstrate objectively their fitness to
serve on a board, and provides a vehicle for continuing professional development.
“While the pool of CD(SA)s is still relatively small, the pathway and ultimate designation
should be used as a benchmark for competency to serve as a director in South Africa,” says
Natesan. “If SAA is to turn the corner, it needs board members with the right knowledge,
skills and personal competencies; and a clear understanding of their responsibilities to the
organisation, to the state and, ultimately, to the citizens.”
Its very true and a fact that many competent and new applicants strive to become Board or Board members or Exec or Non-Exec Directors of State Owned and Other Public Trading Entities (ie. where they know certainly that they are able to add great value), but due to the "Political Appointments" and interference, many are unable to even get shortlisted. I am a very well experienced, skilled and competent resource that has been a victim to such practices and will like to make myself available "FREE OF CHARGE" to any organisation that will require my services, expertise and assistance till they are able to notice that value that I am able to add to any organisation, industry or sector.