#PICInquiry: Black Business Chamber wants Gungubele's head to roll
PRETORIA – The Black Business Chamber is the latest to join calls made by some organised labour movements, for the head of Deputy Minister of Finance, Mondli Gungubele, to roll, after the organisation wrote to parliament asking for him to be investigated for misleading the PIC Commission of Inquiry when he testified two weeks ago.
Mntuwekhaya Cishe, the Secretary General of the Black Business Chamber, in a letter to Baleka Mbete, the speaker of the National Assembly, said Gungubele should be investigated for lying under oath when he appeared at the commission.
“Minister Gungubele appeared at the PIC Commission of Inquiry during the week commencing 25 February 2019 and lied under oath. This is a matter of record. It is of great concern to us as the Black Business Chamber, that someone who is tasked with overviewing the country’s largest asset manager has committed perjury. This is certainly not the conduct of a trusted civil servant who works for the people of South Africa. As such, it calls into question his ability to stand office as the deputy guardian of this good country’s finances. We strongly urge parliament, via Parliament’s Joint Ethics Committee to look into his affairs and conduct. For the good of all in South Africa.”
On February 1, Gungubele and the rest of the PIC board resigned en-masse after Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, allegedly told Gungubele to resign on Friday or face being fired on Monday. Gungubele told the commission that he was not forced to resign; however, other testimonies heard at the commission disputed this, stating that the minister had, indeed, put Gungubele under pressure to resign after allegations of corruption from whistleblower ‘James Noko’ surfaced.
Last week, The Public Servants Association (PSA), the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) and others called for immediate steps to be taken against Deputy Minister of Finance, Mondli Gungubele, following revelations at the PIC Commission of Inquiry that confirm that he misled the Commission in his testimony.
In a recent interview with Independent Media, Gungubele said he had undertaken not to comment until the commission had concluded its work.
“I do not want to create another commission outside the inquiry.
“I would like to request that we let the commissioner reach a verdict on the matter. I have never had anything to hide and I sleep well at night. I don’t want to engage further on what happened till the commission reaches its verdict. If the judge’s views are that I misled, I will live with consequences of that,” he said.
The PIC is Africa’s largest asset manager looking after the South African government's public funds. The biggest client of the PIC is the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), which constitutes approximately 90 percent of its fund under management.
Zola Saphetha, the General Secretary of National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) said the PIC had been hogging the headlines for all the wrong reasons as a result of financial impropriety, speculative investments and allegations of corruption and fraud.
“All these irregularities raise red flags considering that workers are relying on the PIC for survival from their pension funds when they retire from the public service. In most of the deals that the PIC has been involved in, it is evident that they have continuously failed to perform due diligence and fiduciary duties to curb any financial impropriety. Workers’ hard-earned pension funds have been invested in speculative projects that have no prospects for returns …Some directors have been accused of unduly benefiting in a series of dodgy deals involving Ascendis, technology group EOH, Steinhoff, as well as Karan Beef amongst others,” he said.
Saphetha said: “It is worth noting that more than R100 billion of the PIC money lost, has been through white-owned companies at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. The PIC Commission must get to the bottom of R100 billion worth of losses by investigating all of the corrupt politicians and board members.”
He called for the entire entity to be re-engineered, including creating space for three workers representative on the new interim board that has yet to be appointed by the finance minister.
“So far, the Mpati Commission has ignored the fact that the Minister of Finance fired the board and a new board has not been installed. Security checks and vetting would have to be undertaken to ensure that clean people are in charge of the PIC,” he added.
Deon Botha, head of corporate affairs from the PIC said: "The PIC is not in a position to comment on the investigative process of the Commission of Inquiry into the PIC. You are, as such, advised to approach the Commission for comment on the questions you are asking. However, the PIC can state that as a matter of fact, last year alone it made R155 billion on behalf of its clients.”
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