PIC investigation, reporting must be guided by fairness
Opinion / 3 December 2018, 09:56am / adri.senekaldewet
CAPE TOWN – On October 4, President Cyril Ramaphosa set up a commission of inquiry into allegations of impropriety regarding the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and appointed Justice Lex Mpati, the former president of the Supreme Court of Appeal; Gill Marcus, former Governor of the Reserve Bank; and Emmanuel Lediga to lead the investigation. The commission must inquire, make findings, report on and make recommendations such as:
* Alleged impropriety regarding investment decisions by the PIC in 2017 and 2018 that resulted in any undue benefit for any PIC director, employee, associate or family member of any director or employee.
* Effective (or ineffective) governance and functioning of the PIC board.
* Whether any PIC director or employee used his or her position or privileges, or confidential information for personal gain or to improperly benefit another person.
* Whether any legislation or PIC policies concerning the reporting of alleged corrupt activities and the protection of whistle-blowers were not complied with.
* Whether the approved minutes of the PIC board are an accurate reflection of the board's resolutions regarding the allegations.
* Whether all the investigations into the leakage of information and the source of emails containing allegations against senior executives in media reports were justified.
* Whether any employees of the PIC obtained access to emails and other information of the PIC, contrary to the internal policies of the PIC.
* Whether any confidential information of the PIC was disclosed to third parties without authority.
* Whether the PIC has adequate measures in place to ensure that confidential information is NOT disclosed.
* Whether measures that the PIC has in place are adequate to ensure that investments do not unduly favour or discriminate against any prominent individual, family member or any close associates.
* Whether there are discriminatory practices with regard to remuneration and performance awards of PIC employees.
* Whether any senior executive of the PIC victimised any PIC employees.
Now, when you read President Ramaphosa’s order for an inquiry, as I did, and if you followed the media reports in various publications, as I did, you have to ask what lies beneath the intent of some articles, by journalists, reporting only on selected aspects of this very important inquiry.
Some of the recent articles published have been written by either “editor- or writer-at-large”. Given the critical importance of the outcome of the investigation, one would need to ask what do these job titles actually mean? According to research an editor-at-large is still subject to the direction and oversight of chief editors and executive editors. They frequently come up with ideas for other writers to research and write. “At large” means the editor has no specific assignments, but rather works on whatever interests them.
Both “writer-at-large” and “editor-at-large” are titles for people who work at magazines and/or newspapers, and the “at-large” portion of those titles generally means that those people do not belong to a specific department/organisation within the magazine or newspaper.
An “editor-at-large” is a journalist who contributes content to a publication. Unlike an editor who works on a publication from day-to-day and is hands-on, an editor-at-large contributes content on a semi-regular basis and has less of a say in matters such as layout, pictures or the publication’s direction.
Editors-at-large are more independent; they are allowed their own preferences in the content they have to generate, and they do not always have to pitch their ideas to the main editor.
Although they are still subject to the direction and oversight of chief editors and executive editors, they frequently come up with ideas for other writers to research and write.
The editor-in-chief heads all departments of the organisation and is held accountable for delegating tasks to staff members and managing them. The term is often used at newspapers, magazines, yearbooks, and television news programmes. The editor-in-chief is commonly the link between the publisher or proprietor and the editorial staff.
Typical responsibilities of editors-in-chief include: ensuring that content is journalistically objective, rejecting writing that appears to be plagiarised or ghost-written, evaluating and editing content, contributing editorial pieces, motivating and developing editorial staff, handling reader complaints and taking responsibility for issues after publication and working to advance the commercial success of the publication. What is important is that at no point should any editor be influenced by personal feelings or opinions when considering or representing facts. Editorial content must at all times be objective, which is being unprejudiced, non-discriminatory, neutral, uninvolved, fair-minded and impersonal.
I trust that the PIC’s investigation will be fair, and allow all entities involved an equal opportunity to present their facts for the inquiry to be fully transparent by the time the commission must submit an interim report to Ramaphosa by no later than February 15, 2019, and a final report by no later than April 15, 2019.
The investigation must be fair, and I hope that reporters and “writer’s-at-large” will report factual, unprejudiced, impersonal and responsibly, with no political agendas attached.