A commission of inquiry into South Africa’s Public Investment Corporation (PIC) has just opened.
The inquiry has a remit to look into allegations of mismanagement and corruption going back to 2015. The PIC is Africa’s biggest asset manager.
The PIC manages the bulk of pensions of South African civil servants on behalf of the Government Employees’ Pension Fund. Its investments are worth two trillion rands, (€126 billion). The scale of its investment makes the PIC the largest investor on the Johannesburg stock exchange.
President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed a commission of inquiry last August following a number of reports about alleged impropriety and dubious investments.
It is headed by former Supreme Court of Appeal President, Judge Lex Mpati.
The inquiry will focus on the period between January 1st, 2015, and August 31st, 2018. Former CEO, Dan Matjila, resigned last November, but is reportedly contesting the circumstances surrounding his departure.
There were allegations that the CEO colluded with firms in which the PIC invested. Furthermore, the commission will also examine questions about the board’s mandate and whether politicians should be on the board.
According to David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch in Johannesburg, the PIC has always been a controversial organisation because of its power.
“The inquiry will ascertain whether there has been corruption or mismanagement. But sometimes people think because an investment has not realised the returns or when it fails, that in itself is evidence of corruption or mal-administration.
“It may be neither. It may just be that investments are risky and sometimes they go wrong. The trick is to ensure that on balance you maintain and increase the value of the fund. Not every single investment made are successful but [here] there are some which cry out for investigation”, he said.
An interim report is expected by February 15, 2019, the final report is to be submitted on April 15, 2019, before the general elections in May.