PIC Inquiry: Yay say the naysayers
CAPE TOWN - The release of the Mpati Commission's report on alleged impropriety at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) has been welcomed by several sectors of the economy and the decisive action plan by President Cyril Ramaphosa is applauded.
That said, the acute focus on fully functional black-owned businesses is rather glaring and anti-transformation pedalists see this as a resounding victory.
The drive to have a fully transformed South Africa is clearly being undermined, however Ramaphosa’s roadmap, once put into action, looks set to correct this.
Market commentators have pointed out that this report has an uncanny similarity to other commissions: “It is being used to persecute black executives as seen in the:- The Judge Mokgoro Commission (targeting Jiba and Mrwebi); Nugent Commission (targeting Moyane and the black SARS executives).”
Erstwhile South African Revenue Service (SARS) group executive for employment relations Luther Lebelo has challenged the Commissions’ reports, stating in an affidavit that: “In the case of the Nugent Commission, Pravin Gordhan met with judge Nugent, something that is rather strange. The Nugent Commission findings were specifically tailored to sink black SARS executives that they wanted to fire.”
Lebelo said this report and the PIC Commission itself focused on black-owned companies while shielding white companies. “Why were all the other companies that have lost monies borrowed from the PIC not called in? Tongaat-Hullet, EOH, Steinhoff, among others, have lost billions worth of rand belonging to the PIC and Government Employees Pensioners Fund (GEPF).
“Sekunjalo Group companies had positive financial performance, which is benefitting the PIC. All Sekunjalo Group companies are a going concern, with AYO having a great financial performance that yielded in dividend payment to the PIC as a shareholder,” said Lebelo.
While the report clearly highlights the weaknesses in the PIC’s own internal processes and made no adverse findings against Sekunjalo-related companies, among others, other media have gone on to look at the elements of the president’s roadmap and reported that as findings against the PIC’s investee companies.
“Opposition media is trying to cherry-pick sections of the report – without context – to try and frame it as if there was something wrong with the Sekunjalo transactions. It is not possible for (former PIC chief executive) Dr Dan Matjila to have the whole board ‘rubber-stamp’ his decisions as the report claims,” said Lebelo.
The Mpati Commission recommended that certain steps be taken at the GEPF to secure its own position such as a review of the role, relationships, nature and frequency of meetings between the GEPF and PIC, and ensuring appropriate interaction at the required level actually takes place.
The report shows that there are numerous assets that are in distress and that the PIC should urgently devise a stronger mechanism to deal with this and recover whatever it can.
The report has also found that it is highly likely that some sections of the FAIS Act have been contravened. The Commission suggested that parties or former parties could have contravened laws and stated that criminal matters would be referred to the relevant authorities.
The commission also recommended that the PIC ensure that all pre- and post-conditions for all investments made have been fully met and implemented and that effective processes and systems are in place to properly monitor the investment post-disbursement.
In this regard, those responsible for failing to implement conditions precedent to investments ought to be held to account.
Ramaphosa said: “I trust that the implementation of the actions above and the detailed steps set out in the report shall put the PIC in a much stronger position to face the future and be an institution we can all be proud of.”
Sekunjalo spokesperson Mandla Mbusi said on Thursday: “We, therefore, want to assure all South Africans that Sekunjalo will be part of this roadmap just like during the PIC Commission of Inquiry proceedings.”
All that is needed to achieve the goal of the entire exercise is that all PIC investee companies are subjected to the same processes, regardless of who owns them.
The Information and Communication technology Union (ICTU) sent a barb to other media, highlighting that Lancaster, Steinhof and Erin Energy had made gigantic losses for the PIC but were not covered negatively excessively. “This proves that there is nothing fair and without prejudice that Daily Maverick and Amabhungani can claim. This Commission report has thrown their fictitious cover of 'following the story' as a smokescreen and were acting as a hired gun,” said the ICTU’s Thabang Mothelo.
Mothelo said the union was raising this matter because Independent Media was an employer of about 1 500 employees and some were members of ICTU and such actions could have precipitated the demise of Independent Media, which could have devastating effects for many workers and their families.
These media houses’ vendetta against Sekunjalo chairperson Dr Iqbal Survé should not affect workers’ plight, said Mothelo.