SA Express will find chief “soon”

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SA Express,the state regional airline, will appoint a new CE “in a month or two”, board chairwoman Lilian Boyle says. The new candidate, who Business Report has established is more than likely to be an internal appointment, will replace Siza Mzimela, who has taken over as CE of national carrier South African Airways (SAA).

At present, Mzimela attends to SA Express once a week and spends the other four days at her new job, the broadsheet reported today. Boyle would not say how many candidates had been short-listed but confirmed the company was considering both internal and external candidates.

Business Report ads it has learnt that the board believes there are a number of strong potential replacements from inside. However, the board did approach a recruitment agency just before the Easter holidays requesting names to widen the pool. “There is no shortlist and the interviews have not been done,” said an SA Express insider, who wished to remain anonymous. “SAA used headhunters when it was looking for its new (chief executive) and some names are hanging out there but there are no already cast-out candidates. It will be difficult to replace (Mzimela) but there are a number of strong managers that she worked with and the new chief executive is more than likely to be someone from the inside.”

Some insiders who will probably be considered are Sikhumbuzo Zulu, the chief financial officer; Inati Ntshanga, the general manager for strategy and business development; Jerome Simelane, the general manager for commercial; and Arson Malola-Phiri, the regional general manager for African expansion. People such as Chris Smythe, who acted as chief executive at SAA, and Rodger Foster, the chief executive of Airlink, were considered when SAA was looking for its new head.

If SA Express makes an appointment within the next month or two, it will be the first parastatal in recent times to fill a vacancy that quickly. When Mzimela moved to SAA, the position had been vacant for a year; Transnet has operated without a chief executive for the past 14 months; and Eskom has been without a head for five months, but says the search to fill the position is at an advanced stage.