SAfrica main airline appoints new chief executive

* New CEO currently works for domestic carrier

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 24 (Reuters) - State owned South African Airways [SAA.UL] on Wednesday named Siza Mzimera as the new Chief Executive Officer to replace the acting head of the airline Chris Smyth, a company spokeswoman said.

Vimla Maistry said Mzimera, who is currently the head of domestic carrier SA Express, will effectively take charge on April 1 from Smyth, who has been acting SAA CEO for over year.

“I can confirm that we have appointed a new CEO, she is Siza Mzimera. She will come in (at SAA) one day a week in March and in April she will go one day a week to SA Express, just to tie up things,” Maistry told Reuters.

Early this month, President Jacob Zuma said he had ordered an external audit of state companies, following persistent reports of mismanagement and political meddling, and that he wants faster action to curb corruption. [IDnLDE61K04E]

Zuma pointed to the SAA and power utility Eskom [ESCJ.UL], which he said had always had problems.

Key roles at SAA and logistics group Transnet [TRAN.UL] have also been left unfilled as the companies struggle to resolve internal battles.

Analysts have said that political meddling in efforts to resolve the companies’ problems has raised questions about South Africa’s ability to run state-owned firms, making investors hesitate to commit new funds and raising the cost of loans. (Reporting by Shapi Shacinda; editing by Elaine Hardcastle)