Perhaps, the many wives of the president is the reason many believed the president has got his eyes on Myeni. There have been rumors about an ongoing romantic affair between Zuma and the South African Airways board chairperson. Among other things, it was rumored that Myeni was the reason why Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, did not finish his term as Public Enterprise Minister, that SAA was transferred to the National Treasury as demanded by Myeni, that there is a child who is a product of the romantic relationship, and that Nene, the former Finance Minister was fired because he rejected Myeni’s alternative Airbus swap deal.
Even when Myeni told News24 in an interview that the relationship between her and the president is strictly professional, it did little to suppress the rumors. To most, her relationship with the president is not just about her being the chairperson of the Jacob Zuma Foundation and that of SAA broad, there is more to it.
To such end, the president was left with no option but to release a statement where he defended Myeni, and denied the allegation that he is having a romantic relationship with her.
“Her relationship with the president is purely professional, and is based on the running of the foundation. Rumours about a romance and a child are baseless and are designed to cast aspersions on the president,” says the statement.
According to the president, the rumors that Malusi Gigaba did not finish his term as Public Enterprise Minister because of Myeni are untrue. “This is not true,” the president stated and explained that “Mr Gigaba served his full term as Minister of Public Enterprises until the elections in May 2014. All terms of office automatically lapse after elections. A newly-elected president appoints a brand new Cabinet immediately after being sworn in.”
“The new president is under no obligation to re-appoint persons who had served before and there is also no requirement that he should re-appoint people to portfolios they had held before, should he or she decide to include them in his or her new Cabinet. In line with this principle, Mr Gigaba was appointed as minister of home affairs in the fifth administration.”
Reacting to the story of the SAA transfer to the National Treasury to meet Myeni’s demand, Zuma stated that “this is grossly untrue.” “SAA was moved to the National Treasury so that it can be intensively supported to get out of difficulties by the National Treasury. That was the sole motivation.”
“No chairperson of a board of a state-owned company has the power to tell a government department to which the entity reports, how to support or lead them. The president and government will be guided by the National Treasury on the response to the SAA challenges.” Added the statement as it further related that “once the National Treasury advises that the SAA is on a better footing, it will be returned to the department of public enterprises where it belongs.”
The statement equally debunked the rumors of the former Finance Minister being fired for rejecting Myeni’s alternative Airbus swap deal. The president delineated in the statement that “Mr Nene, is South Africa’s candidate to head up the African Regional Center of the New Development Bank, Brics Bank.
“SAA receives directives from the minister of finance and works under the guidance of that ministry. No member of the SAA board is above the minister of finance or can operate outside of the mandate and direction provided by the minister of finance and the National Treasury.”