Monwabisi Kalawe, who was announced as the CEO designate of SAA on Friday, seems to be familiar with the political dynamics of state owned enterprises (SOE) if the appearance of his profile is anything to go by. As such it can be assumed that he is walking into the minefield with his eyes widely open.
In introducing Kalawe, the ministerof public enterprise Malusi Gigaba said “It is critical that the CEO, through change management strategies, instills confidence and improve the morale of the employees of the airline”.
“The Board assures me that Mr. Kalawe has been appointed on the basis of the strength he displays against the competency profile and in comparison with the other candidates who were interviewed”.
He said Kalawe offers experience in airport operations, tourism, global supply chain management and catering services.
Kalawe graduated with a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering, from the University of Natal in 1987 and an MBA from the University of Cape Town in 1998. He is currently the Executive Chairman of the Compass Group, an international catering and support services company. He has also served as the country manager for Compass Group (Southern Africa) from 2008 to 2012. He has served as the CEO of Denel Munitions, Chief Operating Officer of TFMC and GM for ACSA at the Cape Town International Airport.
Gigaba said the board was still to further engage Kalawe on the terms and conditions of employment.
Kalawe’s familiarity with the SOE environment will be an important aspect of his new job which comes with somewhat unique challenges as reflected in the circumstances that surrounded the departure of his predecessors. Vuyisile Kona who served as acting CEO for less than six months departed under acrimoniously last month and so did Sisa Mzimela and a portion of executive team and non executive directors including the chairperson Cheryl Carolus.
The SOE dynamics plus the harsh business conditions makes the SAA CEO job one of the hardest in South Africa’s mainstream commercial sector.
Kalawe comes in shortly after the new SAA board devised a turnaround strategy and submitted it to the minister of public enterprises Malusi Gigaba. As such Kalawe will have to come to speed with this strategy.