CAPE TOWN - The Black Business Chamber (BBC) yesterday called on all South African businesses to do a comprehensive corporate clean-up in light of the report by the PIC Commission of Inquiry and what it termed the “disappointingly incorrect statement” made by Sipho Pityana, president of Business Unity South Africa (Busa) on Monday.
In the said statement Pityana said action needed to be taken against the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) office-bearers (past and present) identified in the report, as well as the people and companies who benefited.
“The report is explicit in terms of the wrongdoing on the side of the PIC, and the appalling conduct of some of the people who accessed PIC funds. Former chief executive of the PIC Dr Dan Matjila must immediately be investigated by the law enforcement agencies, along with beneficiaries such as Dr Iqbal Survé, Jayendra Naidoo and Marcus Jooste,” he said.
The BBC said it supported the call for further investigation on pertinent matters from the commission’s report.
Secretary-general Khaya Cishe encouraged the authorities to root out the corrupt and see that they are dealt with in accordance with the law.
“However, we cannot condone calling for this type of action where it is not warranted,” Cishe said. “By way of example, we are not sure whether Pityana has actually read the report, in asking for action to be taken against Dr Survé, given the report exonerated him.
“Pityana holds a position of power and influence and we suggest he use this wisely. Further, as the Black Business Chamber, we have on several occasions raised legitimate concerns about the approach the PIC Commission of Inquiry took in conducting its examination of the conduct, governance and business output of the PIC. The inquiry was largely focused on black executives and black business people.
“Markus Jooste, for example, was never requested or subpoenaed to present himself to the commission. The man who oversaw the ‘accounting irregularity’ that resulted in several billion rand being wiped off the JSE was not asked to give an account of how and why the PIC lost so much money in Steinhoff’s collapse - R23 billion to the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), which is administered by the PIC, and more than R250bn to other investors.”
Cishe said before Busa could point fingers, it needed to first look into its own matters.
“Fraudulent practices by members of Busa are not restricted to listed companies or the private sector; many of Busa’s members are directly implicated in corruption in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) such as Eskom, SAA and Prasa,” he said.
Cishe said there were more blatant examples of value destruction to the PIC and the GEPF, such as the implosion of Sasol, which used PIC money to invest in the US at a cost of R120bn.
Cishe took a swipe at members of Busa’s executive committee who represent financial institutions and serve on the board, saying these individuals abused their position to generate huge corporate finance fees from SOEs in the name of restructuring.
“Furthermore, some of these very same individuals have gone to the PIC and acted as corporate finance advisers for transactions in which the PIC has invested many billions,” he said.
Cishe said the statement by Pityana and Busa against Matjila, was an attempt to downplay the important role this black executive had in growing the PIC from R400million to more than R2trillion, and with his removal, replacing him with compliant adherents who would do the bidding of certain Busa parties, who had questionable ethics.
South Africa needs a thorough clean-up.
Law enforcement agencies should not only investigate parties the PIC Commission of Inquiry Report has highlighted, but also Busa and its members who have admitted to fraud and corruption and who remain constituent members of both Busa and Business Leadership SA, Cishe said.