PIC has ‘worthy candidate’ to replace ex-CEO Dan Matjila

The process of appointing a new CEO for state asset manager Public Investment Corporation is complete and awaiting approval by government, interim board Chairperson Reuel Khoza has said.

The candidate, which Khoza described in an interview as “extremely worthy”, will replace Dan Matjila, who has been blamed for flouting governance processes in the recent report of the Mpati Commission of Inquiry, which probed allegations of maladministration in Africa’s largest asset manager. 

The PIC invests on behalf of the major Government Employee Pension Fund, among other state funds, and manages over R2 trillion in assets.

“We have so far identified a good candidate for the position of CEO. It’s an extremely worthy candidate, we are now awaiting final approval by the shareholder,” Khoza told Fin24.

He said that unlike in the private sector, the board can only make a recommendation, and the CEO needs to receive the highest level of approval from the government as its shareholder.

Khoza said the board, whose mandate expires in July following its appointment in July 2019, was engaged in implementing the recommendations of the Mpati Inquiry report, which revealed a multitude of governance failures within the institution.

“We are going to pack in as much as can be conceivably packed in those four months,” he said, referring to the time left until the end of the board’s term. 

The decision to extend the mandate of the board rests with the finance minister. Khoza said he could not say if there is was a possibility that the board could be allowed to stay on until they finish the job of implementing the recommendations of the report.

To help speed up the application of the commission’s recommendations, Khoza said the PIC had appointed an external task team of forensic experts to beef up capacity in the process of holding the implicated parties accountable. He insisted that panel’s appointment did not mean the board was shirking off its fiduciary responsibilities.

Explicit directives 

He described the recommendations of the report, which in the main were critical of Matjila’s conduct, as “quite explicit, almost like directives”.

The report rebuked the former CEO for ignoring established protocols when it came to investment decisions, including a controversial R4.3bn investment in AYO Technologies, an entity associated with businessman Iqbal Iqbal Survé’s Sekunjalo stable of companies. 

It was recommended in the report that the PIC must hold Matjila responsible for certain financial losses and explore possible personal liability with regard to any fruitless and wasteful expenditure suffered by the asset manager. 

Matjila, who resigned from the organisation has said he plans to challenge the findings of the report. However, Khoza had these word for him: “good luck”.

“The report is very explicit that he had breached or flouted procedures, and is therefore liable to be held accountable.”

Khoza added that the corporation would be pursuing individuals as well as implicated corporate companies. 

“The former CEO is among those individuals,” he added. 

While the PIC seems to be moving ahead with the implementation of the report’s recommendation, the disciplinary process of its suspended chief financial officer, Matsepo More, appears to be in limbo.

More, who also acted as CEO following Matjila’s resignation in November 2018, was a year ago placed on precautionary suspension following allegations that she was interfering in processes related to the commission of inquiry.

Khoza, said the PIC was still waiting for the chairperson of her disciplinary process to give a verdict on the matter.

“The chairman of that process keeps on postponing, we would have expected him to have pronounced on her guilt or innocence,” he said, adding that the board was in the dark about reasons for the delay.

Vuyani Hako has been acting CEO since More’s suspension.

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