PRETORIA – A former board member of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), Dr Claudia Manning, on Tuesday told the commission of inquiry probing allegations of impropriety that deep divisions and polarisation crippled the board in 2017, diverting its attention from the organisation’s core business.
"The period between September and December 2017 can best be described as a tumultuous one, characterised by fierce divisions in the board, creating a tense and polarised environment at the board," Manning told the inquiry led by former Supreme Court of Appeal Justice Lex Mpati in Pretoria.
"Both the board and the management were devoting considerable attention to managing the crisis, rather than on the core business of the PIC. The public attention on the PIC eventually waned towards the end of 2017."
Manning said, however, that the PIC became the subject of renewed public and media attention in March and April 2018 when a series of media articles were written about transactions the PIC had entered, as well as allegations of victimisation of certain staff.
"What was striking about the March/April media attention was the new narrative that the board had acted improperly in not suspending the chief executive in 2017, that the board had been intent on protecting a corrupt chief executive in 2017, and that the chief executive's attempts to identify leaks and enhance the IT security of the organisation amounted to the chief executive conducting a witch-hunt against honest whistle-blowers," said Manning.