Serge Belamant
Johannesburg – Following the storm over the contract to pay social grants to millions of South Africans, Net1 founder and chief executive Serge Belamant will retire a year early and will be replaced by current chief financial officer, Herman Kotzé, the company said on Thursday.

At the height of the controversy over the social grants contract with South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), Net1’s largest shareholders, World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and Allan Gray, expressed unhappiness about the company’s handling of the contract.

In a statement announcing Belamant’s retirement, Net1 alluded to the shareholder’s unease about the Sassa contract.

It said the Net1 board had agreed to Belamant’s retirement after, among others, “noting views expressed by certain of the company’s shareholders.”

Net1’s subsidiary, Cash Paymaster Services has the contract to distribute 17 million social grants.

Net1 said Belamant would provide consulting services to the company for two years.

Read also: Net 1 chief under grants pressure

“Belamant is a visionary technologist who, during his 27 years with Net1, has established the company as a world leader in payment systems and related mobile technologies. He leaves the company well-positioned to grow its international footprint,” said Net1 chairperson Christopher Seabrooke.