A potential golden handshake for the CEO of a public company managing public pensions would hinder accountability
(Johannesburg, 2 October 2018)
The fact that embattled CEO of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), Dan Matjila, may be negotiating a significant severance package to leave his position, as reported by the South African newspaper Mail & Guardian, is worrying, said today the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF).
The PIC is a state-owned company that holds more than R2 trillion (121 billion euro) in assets. It is Africa’s largest asset manager and holds large stakes in several South African companies. Some 98% of value owned or overseen by the PIC belongs to the South African Government or its employees, including dozens of social security, pension, provident and other funds. The PIC’s largest client is the R700 billion (42 billion EUR)Government Employee Pension Fund (GEPF).
The potential negotiation may take place despite the Commission of Inquiry into the PIC appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa. The inquiry will consist of an ongoing forensic investigation, partially based on whistleblower-related cases, into alleged improprieties, corruption and illicit transactions involving companies and senior members of the country’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC).
“In light of recent efforts to ensure accountability in South Africa, such a deal would be very troubling”, said Henri Thulliez, co-founder of PPLAAF. “The Budlender Inquiry is currently looking into the wrong-doings at the PIC, which include serious and detailed accusations against Mr. Matjila that PPLAAF has seen. It should be allowed to run its course.”
While the Gupta’s were the brazen face of state capture, it is alleged that billions of rands worth of loans, provided under Matjila’s watch, to politically-exposed persons were given under conditions so soft so that they were practically gifts. The value of the pension funds of tens of thousands of public servants has been diminished as a result to enrich, yet again, South Africa’s elite
Mr. Matjila would be leaving the PIC in the wake of the dismissal of at least one brave whistleblower, Simphiwe Mayisela, and the ongoing disciplinary hearing of the company secretary who stands accused, essentially, of exposing some of the rotten schemes. This includes the alleged doctoring of minutes of the PIC board minutes to cover up nepotism and corruption.
“We call on President Ramaphosa to prevail upon the Board, reverse the dismissal and stop the victimization of alleged whistleblowers so that they may freely participate in the Budlender Inquiry investigating corruption at the PIC,” added Thulliez. “The President must consider interrupting the exit of Mr. Matjila at the further expense of pensioners and public confidence in the country’s new dawn. Wrongdoing in state agencies and parastatals should be prosecuted and not result in golden handshakes.”
PPLAAF is a non-governmental organization created in March 2017 with hubs around Africa. It provides support to assist whistleblowers including encrypted communication, free legal advice or representation against employers, continued assistance to protect the whistleblower in the disclosure of information to the public, the development of legislation to protect whistleblowers and legal cases based on whistleblower information.
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