Public Investment Corporation (PIC) logo. PHOTO: Supplied
CAPE TOWN – Union representation at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) is on the verge of being realised as the three biggest labour union contributors have announced their preferred candidates to be appointed to the asset manager’s interim board.

National Education Health & Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) deputy general secretary December Mavuso confirmed to Business Report that the union had nominated secretary-general Zola Saphetha.

South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) media officer Nomusa Cembi confirmed that Sadtu had nominated its general secretary, Mugwena Maluleke, while according to a Bloomberg report the Public Servants Association had nominated its general manager, Ivan Fredericks.

Cembi said the interim board would remain in place, pending the finalisation of the new Public Investment Corporation Act. The deadline for the unions to submit their nominations is today. The appointments would mark the first time the PIC has union representatives on its board.

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“It’s going to be the first time, it’s a huge change,” the PSA’s deputy general manager for members’ affairs, Tahir Maepa, was quoted as saying. “This is going to be a game-changer for the PIC going forward.”

Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni effectively dismissed the entire PIC board in February after getting hold of damning email correspondence implicating PIC bigwigs of corrupt practices at Africa’s largest asset manager.

The previous board was chaired by former Deputy Finance Minister Mondli Gungubele, who has also been implicated in corrupt practices currently being probed by the PIC Commission of Inquiry led by retired Judge Lex Mpati.

Mboweni gave the board an ultimatum to either resign or be fired and the board opted for the former, submitting a joint resignation letter signed by all.

In a break with tradition, the new board, which will serve until the PIC Commission of Inquiry releases its findings, would not be chaired by the deputy finance minister, said Maepa, who cited conversations he has had with the minister.

In his new cabinet, President Ramaphosa retained Tito Mboweni as Minister of Finance and appointed David Masondo as the deputy minister, triggering a positive response from the Black Business Chamber, which described this move as one that reflected continuity, change and was fit-for-purpose.

Maepa said: “This thing of the deputy minister being the chairperson of the board. That is nonsense. We need a business person, a private person.”

The PSA has 240 000 members, making it the biggest contributor by members to funds that ultimately flow to the PIC. Sadtu has about 230 000 members and Nehawu about 194 000.

“We are going to need to reach a point where the PIC board is also independent of unions as well, but currently because of the trust deficit that is there we have to go there and guard our money ourselves,” Maepa said. “We cannot stay out of the water when we see billions and billions of rand are being lost due to dubious investments.”

Reached for comment, the Treasury said it was expected that the PIC Board appointment process would be finalised in the next few weeks. – Additional reporting by Bloomberg.

BUSINESS REPORT