Whine Celliers. But will it lead to SAA Reform?


Jacques Celliers, CEO First National Bank

I am not quite sure what to make of this tweet from a top bank boss:

Jacques Celliers (‪@CelliersJ1)

2017/08/14, 06:36

As from today I’m not flying on SAA anymore .. instead I’ll be supporting the honourable alternatives .. this abuse has to come to an end!

The head of FNB has a good point, but is Celliers being a bit celly?  Certainly, if SAA were in the rail business, they would be a train wreck.  Corruption at Board level, unpleasant flying experiences, and an ability to burn cash at the speed of sound.  Airline fractures all over the place.

Few South African can be happy about the current state of affairs – and I, for one, would celebrate the privatisation or closure of SAA.  This is a jumbo airline disaster and  a national disgrace.

However, Celliers works for a banking group which has come off badly in previous skirmishes with government.

In 2017, Paul Harris, who then headed FNB’s parent group RMB, got into hot water with government over an anti-crime advertising campaign which appeared to attack government.

In January 2013, Celliers’ predecessor Michael Jordaan was in trouble over a YouTube campaign featuring children, some of whom were critical of government.

So there are worrying precedents for the current FNB boss to fret about.   Government has massive economic clout, and if it wants to punish FNB it certainly has the ability to do so.

However, there has been a recent tendency for business to be more critical of government, and of state-owned parasitals like SAA.

So maybe Celliers will get away with it?”

He certainly has my support.


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