Africa’s biggest fund manager may be dumped by a labor federation representing 230,000 South African state workers
Africa’s biggest fund manager may be dumped by a labor federation representing 230,000 South African state workers
BAILOUT FOR SOEs: Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba Picture: Reuters
BAILOUT FOR SOEs: Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba Picture: Reuters

JOHANNESBURG - A week after the Public Investment Corporation’s (PIC) chief executive Dr Dan Matjila survived attempts to have him removed from his position, the country’s second-biggest labour federation, Fedusa, yesterday said that it was seriously considering ditching Africa’s largest fund manager as an investment vehicle for its 230000-strong state employees members.

The PIC oversees nearly R2trillion in assets on behalf of government employees. Dennis George, the general secrerary of Fedusa, yesterday said that while the federation believed that the PIC was currently well run, it believed moves were afoot to capture the organisation.

“We are concerned that the lack of good governance at state-owned entities will spill over to the PIC. We are aware of plans to remove Dr Matjila and replace him with an acting chief executive. Pravin Gordhan had previously warned us about this modus operandi. “We are warning the government that pulling out of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) is one of the options we are considering in protecting the interest of our members. We have already seen instances where government money was used to bankroll the Guptas like the R30million from the Free State that was spent on a lavish wedding,” charged George.

According to the PIC’s 2016 annual report, the GEPF is the largest client, with a contribution of 88.2percent of total assets under management. Other clients include the Unemployment Insurance Fund, Compensation Commissioner Fund, Compensation Commissioner Pension Fund and Associated Institutions Pension Fund.

In addition, the PIC has smaller portfolios, constituting 1.6percent of total assets under management and recently received mandates from the National Lotteries Commission as well as the Political Office Bearers Pension Fund.

Allegations

Last week, our carrier The Star reported that moves were afoot to remove Matjila from the helm of the PIC amid allegations that he had funded an alleged girlfriend’s business venture to the tune of R21m - an allegation Matjila refuted.

The PIC deputy chairperson Xolani Mkhwanazi had instructed Matjila to cut short his international business trip to respond to the allegation at a special board meeting held last week Friday. However, after a marathon meeting, the PIC board gave Matjila a stay of execution pending “the internal audit division at the PIC would independently review the representations made by the chief executive”.

The media alleged that the moves to oust Matjila were plotted by the Gupta family with the intention of installing former PIC chief executive Brian Molefe back to the role 7 years after he left the company.

The Ministry of Finance and Deputy Minister Sifiso Buthelezi, who serves as PIC’s chairperson, have consistently denied reports that the PIC’s board wanted Matjila out. Molefe has also denied that the Guptas had approached him to take over the reins at PIC.

Sizwe Pamla, the Cosaatu spokesperson, said the federation had discussed the PIC, but had not reached a stage where it was contemplating ditching the asset manager, but wanted more transparency. “We are going to demand that the PIC serves the working class and that there is more worker involvement in the decision-making processes at the organisation.

“The lack of transparency at the PIC leaves a lot to be desired. When we try to get information from our board members who serve on the board, we often find them scrapping to get information that they should have ordinarily been acquainted with,” Pamla said.

In June deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa told legislators that the PIC had distinguished itself as “a very good fund manager”.

- BUSINESS REPORT