SOUTH AFRICA - PRETORIA - 25 February 2019. Deputy Minister of Finance Mondli Gungubele testifying at PIC Commission of Enquiry. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)
PRETORIA – Sandra Beswick, a director of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), submitted to the PIC Commission of Inquiry that the chairperson, Deputy Finance Minister Mondli Gungubele, publicly undermined his own board.

Beswick stated that the decision by him to abide by a court application by the United Democratic Movement (UDM) was a contradiction in terms because he had signed a resolution of the board’s decision to oppose UDM the action in his capacity as chairperson of the PIC. 

“The chairperson was undermining his own board in public which further fuelled the divisions among board members and led to the resignation of Dr Claudia Manning which weakened the board significantly. Tantaswa Fubu also resigned at this time.

“It was apparent that the chairperson did not have faith and trust in the board about the way the MST matter was handled which continued unabated until the release of the findings contained in the Budlender report,” said Beswick.  

She related to the Commission that at a special board meeting on June 22, 2018 was convened to discuss the urgent court application launched by the United Democratic Movement (UDM) to order the Finance Minister to: 
  • Suspend the chief executive because of alleged corrupt deeds
  • Commission an external investigation of the MST transaction and conduct an independent enquiry into the chief executive’s alleged corrupt behaviour; 
  • Prohibit the Board from taking any decisions concerning the suspension of the chief executive because there was a conflict of interest having failed to suspend him in 2017; 
The respondents cited in the application were Matjila, the PIC, Minister of Finance and the chairperson. 

Three of the respondents filed an opposing notice while Gungubele filed a notice to abide by the UDM application, after he had signed the board resolution to oppose the action. 

In his decision to abide by the action he set out his concerns: 

  • The decisions taken by the Board in September and October 2017; 
  • Contents of the statements issued by the Board; 
  • That the board did not conduct an external investigation 

Excerpts from Gungubele’s affidavit:

The Chairperson has recorded that in his view, the Board’s decision to prioritise a forensic investigation regarding the leakages and not to conduct a forensic investigation regarding the allegations against the chief executive, could be seen to have been an attempt by the Board to shield the chief executive and the chief financial officer and to expose the whistle-blower. 

The Chairperson has also recorded that he raised his concerns with the Board and he cannot “confidently state that the Board acted properly when it dealt with these matters”. He has also expressed the view that there is not much objectivity and independence amongst Board members and the Board has relied on the views and advice of the chief executive and compromised its duty of care. 

Beswick said Gungubele had also indicated that the majority of the Board refused to re-look at the issues, while the minority had constantly questioned the process adopted by the Board.

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