PIC's R99bn Nenegate loss normal, says Zuma

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma views the fact that the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) lost R99bn within 48 hours after the sacking of former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in December last year as a “normal" economic phenomenon.

The DA’s shadow minister of finance David Maynier asked Zuma if he would reconsider a previous statement that the markets had overreacted and people had exaggerated following the impact of his decision to replace Nene with little-known ANC MP David (Des) van Rooyen.

Maynier’s question came after PIC CEO Daniel Matjila admitted to Parliament in May that the asset manager, one of the largest in Africa, had lost more than R100bn within 48 hours after the removal of Nene on December 9. The funds were subsequently regained when the rand stabilised.

INFOGRAPHIC: From Nenegate to Brexit - see what moved rand the most

According to Matjila, the Government Employees Pension Fund lost R95bn, the Unemployment Insurance Fund R7bn and the Compensation Fund R3bn, while other funds took a hit of R1.2bn following 9/12 - the day Nene was briefly replaced with Van Rooyen as finance minister.

“However, beyond two days we’ve seen a significant recovery,” Matjila said in response to questions from MPs on May 10 about its investment mandates and details about the entities and companies it invests in.

READ: PIC lost over R100bn when Zuma fired Nene - CEO

In January this year, Zuma said the markets overreacted when he replaced Nene and people “exaggerated" the situation. He insisted that it had been the right decision to appoint Van Rooyen.

READ: Van Rooyen was highly qualified for finance job, says Zuma

In response to Maynier’s question, Zuma wrote that the currencies of countries that have international trade linkages are “contagiously linked to both domestic and global temporal events”.

“This is called incidence of speculative attacks. South Africa is no exception.”

According to Zuma, global and domestic events and shocks in November and December had a negative impact on the rand.

Global factors included the “oil price, figures from China and US interest rates”.

Zuma acknowledged that domestically the “sovereign downgrading of South Africa in December and changing of the minister of finance” impacted the local currency's exchange rate. 

"The latter incident caused a spike in the rand and within three days, the rand recovered back to the pre-9 December 2015 levels," he said.

About the PIC’s temporary R99bn loss, Zuma said the loss and subsequent recovery of the money are “normal occurrences in speculative global and domestic attacks”. 

He believed the government showed commitment to grow the economy by implementing the National Development Plan,  and that markets “continue to show resilience”.

“Our efforts of galvanising government, business and labour to work together to implement the 9-point plan and implement critical reforms are proving to be a solution in fast-tracking growth in the economy.”

South Africa’s economy contracted by 1.2% in the first quarter of 2016, while the International Monetary Fund revised the country’s growth prospects downwards from 0.6% to 0.1%.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot