Zakhele Thwala becomes Civil Aviation Authority interim director


The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has appointed Zakhele Thwala as interim Director of Civil Aviation following the departure of Captain Colin Jordaan, whose employment came to an end on December 31.

Thwala is deputy director-general at the Department of Transport (DoT), with his responsibility being aviation.

Desmond Golding, SACAA acting chair thanked Captain Jordaan for his contribution during his three year tenure and wished him well with his future endeavours. He also said that the process of appointing a permanent Director of Civil Aviation is at an advanced stage. The process will be concluded by the end of the financial year in March.
“In the interim, Thwala will act as the head of the SACAA until a permanent Director of Civil Aviation has been appointed,” said Golding.

The process will coincide with the appointment of a new board for the SACAA. The current board’s tenure has been extended until the end of March 2011.
“The SACAA and the Ministry of Transport will make the necessary announcements once the process of appointing a new board and director of Civil Aviation is concluded,” added Golding.

One of the reasons Thwala was chosen as acting director is that he is a former employee of the SACAA who served as Executive Manager: Accident and Incident Investigations for a number of years until his appointment to the DoT in June 2008, Golding said..

Thwala boasts almost 25 years of experience in various positions in the transport industry, and more specifically in aviation. Whilst in exile, he served the ANC in various capacities and in many countries, especially in Southern Africa. He also acted as the Chief Representative of the ANC in Ethiopia. He returned to South Africa in 1992 and worked at the head office of the ANC before joining South African Airways (SAA).

Thwala kick-started his aviation career in 1988 at the Ethiopian Airlines School of Pilot and Engineering Training. He has since plied his trade in various capacities at a number of entities, including South African Airways, South African Air Force (as lieutenant-colonel), Denel Aviation as well as Gauteng’s Department of Transport.

An MBA graduate, Thwala has several other qualifications and is currently studying towards his PHD on Aviation Safety.

The SACAA’s goals for the short term are to intensify its oversight role and activities in order to maintain South Africa’s Category 1 status (as reconfirmed by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2008); to improve on compliance and corporate governance matters as well as the SACAA’s financial sustainability; to stabilise the leadership and management of the SACAA by ensuring that the Minister concludes the process of appointing a new Board as well as ensuring that the filling of vacant strategic positions such as that of the Chief Financial Officer and Director of Civil Aviation takes place speedily; and to ensure improved relations with all stakeholders.