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'Stalingrad' approach exasperated ex-PIC board member

Mar 04 2019 19:40
Sibongile Khumalo

Former Public Investment Corporation (PIC) board member Vuyo Jack says he found himself exasperated by the "Stalingrad" approach adopted by some of the corporation's executives during his three-year stint at the government-run asset manager.

During his testimony before the PIC inquiry on Monday, Jack said that at some point he lost interest in the company "due to the effective Stalingrad strategy used by PIC executives" and the inability of the chairperson and shareholder representatives to bring them to account.

The PIC manages assets worth more than R2trn. Its largest client is the Government Employees' Pension Fund. 

"I was never able to bring Dr Dan Matjila to account and give his insights into the investment decisions under his watch," said Jack, the founder and executive chair of BEE verification agency Empowerdex. 

Matjila was appointed CEO of the PIC in December 2014. Prior to that he held the position of chief investment officer (CIO). He resigned in late November 2018. 

Jack, who was appointed to the PIC board late in 2012, also testified how Matjila - who was then CIO - had raised numerous concerns about an internal governance review report conducted in 2014.

Jack said Matjila had snubbed the review process, but later questioned the methodology used. The review had raised several shortcomings in governance. 

Members of the PIC's executive committee had participated in the process, except for Matjila, according to Jack.

"He hardly attended workshops where governance issues were tabled, he only attended meetings and his attendance record at the Fund Investment Panel Structures and some other sub-committee level engagements was a concern."

He added it was later decided that Matjila should decrease his engagement with the boards of other entities, "so that he could be more present within the PIC".

Encouraging participating 

Jack said he attempted to engage the former board chair Nhlanhla Nene with the view of encouraging Matjila to participate in the governance review process.

Assistant commissioner Emmanuel Lediga asked Jack if he was able to establish why Matjila was not interested in taking part in the review process. Jack replied: "I don't have any reason why."

The governance review was commissioned in 2013, in a bid to tackle the issues affecting the working environment in the company.

Jack stated that, when the interview sessions with staff members started in March 2014, there was a "pervasive atmosphere of fear" among staff, who feared intimidation and revenge from senior managers.

Jack left the PIC in November 2015. The inquiry will resume on Tuesday.

pic  |  vuyo jack  |  pic commission of inquiry
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