The South Africa Federation of Trade Unions welcomes the resignation of the Chief Executive Officer of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), Dan Matjila.
The PIC manages R2-trillion in government pension and other funds. It is Africa’s largest asset manager, the single biggest shareholder on the JSE and the largest investor in government bonds.
That is why the federation views with such concern the reports of alleged impropriety regarding investment decisions by the PIC in 2017 and 2018. These include:
- The private placement of R4.3bn in the initial public offering of Iqbal Surve’s Ayo Technologies in December 2017 at a price that was regarded by the market as grossly overvalued;
- The PIC’s subsequent enthusiasm to invest in Surve’s Sagarmantha project, which did not go ahead; and
- Its investment in an oil refinery in Mozambique in which the son of former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene was involved.
SAFTU has welcomed the presidential commission of inquiry, headed by retired judge Lex Mpati, the former president of the Supreme Court of Appeal, and urges it to proceed swiftly to investigate all allegations not only against Matjila but the PIC board, which has continued to support him.
The inquiry must be truly independent and non-partisan and give all those accused the right to a fair hearing. But if it is finds that anyone is guilty of any offence then they must face the consequences.
The federation also demands that those suspended whistle-blowers in the PIC be reinstated immediately and that they, and other whistle-blowers, be fully protected and allowed to present their evidence to the commission.
SAFTU has also welcomed the fact the inquiry’s terms of reference extend beyond just matters of governance to probe whether the PIC has adequate measures in place to ensure that investments do not unduly “favour or discriminate against” prominent influential people, their immediate family members or known associates.
It should also look more broadly at the PIC’s investment policies, which SAFTU believes are too narrowly defined as investments which give the “maximum return”, which is interpreted as meaning that money can only be loaned for mega projects in city centres to build more glass-fronted buildings, which leads to the deepening of inequality in society.
This is workers’ money, and must therefore be invested not only to provide security to those whose pension and provident money the PIC manages, but also to play a key role in the development of the country by setting aside a percentage of the funds to be invested in government bonds dedicated to, for example, building affordable houses in residential areas where workers live.
SAFTU also calls for the PIC to be made more democratic and accountable, with representative of the employees whose pension funds the PIC manages to say how their money should be invested and to mandate the PIC officials to implement these policies.