South African Airways (SAA) CEO Monwabisi Kalawe, who has been on suspension since last year, will resign with immediate effect in return for six months’ pay, plus leave, following an arbitration hearing.
Kalawe was named as SAA CEO in April 2013, but was suspended last year on allegations of misconduct. In an earlier statement, SAA said these charges included “gross misrepresentation” to the Minister of Public Enterprises and “failure to act at all times in the best interests of SAA.”
Nico Bezuidenhout, who has been CEO of SAA low-cost airline Mango since 2006, was re-appointed as acting CEO during Kalawe’s absence.
SAA announced formal disciplinary proceedings in February, but the two sides reached an arbitration agreement on Apr. 17. “During the arbitration proceedings both parties agreed that the employment relationship between Mr Kalawe and SAA had irretrievably broken down and that Mr Kalawe would not seek to continue employment at SAA,” SAA said in a statement.
Kalawe will be paid his contractual three months’ notice and outstanding leave, plus a further three months’ pay for resigning with immediate effect, “thus rendering further disciplinary proceedings unnecessary.”
“The parties believe that this resolution avoids further expensive and protracted litigation which is not in the interest of either party and is ultimately in the best interests of both parties and the public good. This settlement will enable SAA to focus its full attention on the operational challenges facing SAA,” SAA said. The troubled carrier has just completed an urgent 90-day turnaround push.
SAA has undergone five CEO/acting CEO changes in just two years. Its management remained fairly stable until late 2012 when former CEO Siza Mzimela and eight board members suddenly left the carrier. Mzimela’s acting successor, Vuyisile Kona, was then put on precautionary suspension and Bezuidenhout was brought in from Mango to temporarily lead the carrier. Kalawe was appointed and suspended, and Bezuidenhout became acting CEO for a second time.
Kalawe’s has previously worked for state-owned electricity firm Eskom, Nestle South Africa, Airports Co. South Africa, Total Facilities Management Co., defense equipment manufacturer Denel and investment firm Compass Group.