PIC denies ‘false, malicious’ allegations about ‘flouting processes’ in search of new CEO
The state-owned corporation denies trying to 'cover up an unethical bid for control of the state’s key financial asset' following accusations in a report.
Executive chairman of the Sekunjalo Group. Dr Iqbal Survé. Picture: Gallo Images
The Public Investment Corporation (PIC) has responded to a report in Business Report on accusations that the state-owned enterprise flouted processes in the recruitment of its new chief executive, as “part of a bid to control state’s key asset”.
In a statement, the chairperson of the PIC’s interim board, Dr Reuel Khoza, said the PIC was “committed to [entrenching] a culture of accountability and proper governance that is to be expected of a reputable asset management company”.
According to Khoza, the report “questions this commitment on the basis of false, malicious and contrived allegations from unidentified sources”.
In the report, the PIC Board is accused by unidentified sources of “flouting processes” and appointing a service provider when “the company was allegedly not on the PIC’s supplier list”.
According to the report, “this move was irregular” and the PIC management and board are trying to “cover up an unethical bid for control of the state’s key financial asset”.
The report further alleges that “when the matter was raised with the board, PIC director Maria Ramos threw a tantrum and went ahead with the process”.
In response, Khoza calls the allegations “irrational”.
“Despite written responses by the PIC that disprove Business Report’s accusations, the newspaper
went ahead and published allegations without presenting any evidence or facts, other than the
accounts of unidentified sources,” he said.
He then listed the following facts in a bid to counter the claims made in the report:
- “In 2019, the board established a task team from within its ranks to lead and oversee the
executive search assignment;
- “The PIC embarked on an open tender process and public advertisements – both print and digital media – were published on 25 August 2019, calling for proposals from interested executive search companies;
- “A competitive bidding process followed, in which 18 eligible executive search companies were evaluated;
- “Four companies that met the minimum requirements were short-listed;
- “After further evaluation and a second round of presentations, The Boardroom Alliance (Pty) was appointed.”
According to Khoza, the appointment of a new CEO is a “top priority” for the PIC’s board, which agrees with the commission of inquiry into the PIC that this should take place even before the commission is completed.
“President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed the commission, its report was handed to him and he will use his discretion on when and how the report will be released,” he said.
Khoza also said he was disappointed that the Public Servants Association (PSA) reacted to the report by threatening legal action against the board without checking the facts.
“Credible journalism, in the public interest, must concern itself with facts or must strive to establish true facts. This strengthens accountability and ultimately, the health of our democracy,” he said.
“The PIC is fully committed to media freedom and to advance black ownership in this industry. The legal action that the PIC lodged against Sekunjalo Independent Media in November last year for failing to repay its loan obligations to the Government Employees Pension Fund is of a commercial dispute and should not be misconstrued for anything else.
“The board rejects the allegations propagated by Business Report. The PIC and the board’s task team followed all the requirements of a bona fide tender process and have documented their actions in this regard.
“We want to give assurance that the board remains unequivocally committed to restoring both integrity and credibility to the PIC as an institution, and to its reputation. The board will not be distracted from this commitment,” Khoza said.
In November 2019, the PIC lodged an application to liquidate Sekunjalo Independent Media (SIM), the company that purchased Independent Media in 2013 and therefore owns Business Report.
Sekunjalo, owned by Iqbal Surve, was able to purchase Independent Media mainly due to a controversial PIC loan paid to Sekunjalo.
Spokesperson Takudzwa Hove called the PIC’s liquidation actions “malicious” and alleged it was a “further attempt to embarrass and undermine the Sekunjalo Group, and Dr Survé personally, and is aimed at provoking a run on SIM’s major subsidiary, Independent Media, which is fully operational”.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)