If a deal to secure a R15 billion loan from the Free State Development Corporation (FDC) by SA Airways (SAA) had gone through in 2015, the chairperson of the FDC, who is also allegedly Ace Magashule’s sister, would have stood to benefit.
This is according to former SAA treasurer Phumeza Nhantsi who told the state capture inquiry on Tuesday that she realised that she was being used as “a vehicle for people to enrich themselves.”
Nhantsi took the stand after being implicated by her predecessor, Cynthia Stimpel, who testified last week.
She also explained SAA’s controversial attempt to procure R15bn in funding for its 2015 capital restructuring project as per the instructions of SAA’s board, led by Dudu Myeni at the time.
Nhantsi alleged that she only realised much later that some of the decisions taken were wrong.
According to Stimpel’s testimony, SAA had two options before it at the time, one more viable than the other but a resolution was passed during a board meeting in December 2015 to exclude both the banks and SeaCrest and instead appoint FDC.
The decision to appoint FDC – which had not originally tendered for the contract – was based on a letter by the company’s chief financial officer Shepherd Moyo, reports Sowetan.
Nhantsi said the board resolution put her under the impression that that SAA could take offers that did not go through the tender process.
She went on to recall a conversation she had with Moyo soon after the decision was made to appoint the FDC.
“In my discussion with Moyo at the time, he mentioned that the chair of the FDC board was the sister of Ace Magashule (then Free State premier) and at the time I couldn’t link anything because I was coming from a professional background,” she said, before adding, “now looking back … I see that in a way I was used as a vehicle for people to enrich themselves.”
According to the publication, SAA’s choice of the FDC was shut down by the national Treasury which instructed that the company, which is also state-owned, did not have the mandate to provide SAA with funds.