Finance Minister Tito Mboweni gestures as he delivers his 2019 Budget speech in Parliament. Photo: Reuters
PRETORIA – Director of the Public Investment Commission (PIC), Sandra Beswick, revealed that the demand by the Finance Minister Tito Mboweni that they resign or be fired was highly irregular and the repercussions could have been disastrous for the PIC as it could have lost its Fais licence and was in contravention of the Companies Act.

The Finance Minister’s ire was triggered after whistle-blower under the pseudonym of James Noko sent several emails accusing various board members and management of impropriety and corruption delving into their personal lives. 

Beswick said the at the February 1 Board meeting the Board was informed by the PIC chairperson, Deputy Finance Minister Mondli Gungubele, that he had received a call from the Finance Minister, who was allegedly angry at the allegations contained in the mails and said the Board should consider resigning immediately “failing which, he will fire us and appoint an interim board within the next week”. 

“I emphasise that the chairperson was the only channel of communication with the Finance Minister and we did not speak to him directly. 

“This demand was highly irregular because the repercussions could be disastrous for the PIC because it could lose its FAIS licence and was in contravention of the Companies Act,” she said. 

Beswick’s testimony was in line with that of PIC director Dudu Hlatshwayo, who also said on Tuesday that the board was given the ultimatum to resign or be fired, communicated to them by Gungubele at the February 1 Board meeting. 

“All nine members of the Board agreed to resign and issued a letter to the Finance Minister stating that we were prepared to continue as Board members until the interim board had been appointed. It was agreed that all committee and Board meetings be cancelled,” said Beswick.

She said PIC director Dudu Hlatshwayo then sent a mail to Gungubele stating that she would not accept accountability and responsibility for any decisions taken by the PIC at this time. 

“After the circulation of this the chairperson then wrote to the Board and instructed us to continue with all meetings until further notice,” said Beswick. 

On February 15 the Finance Minister sent a letter to the Board accepting the resignations and requested we continue with our duties until an interim board had been appointed.