The search is on for a new PIC board

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The process of appointing a new Public Investment Corporation (PIC) board to replace the members who quit last week is underway, according to a National Treasury official.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is expected to announce the board in place of the nine non-executive directors who resigned on Friday, amid allegations of corruption.

The team that threw in the towel included Mondli Gungubele, Xolani Mkhwanazi, Trueman Goba, Pitsi Moloto, Mathukana Mokoka, Dudu Hlatshwayo, Sandra Beswick, Busisiwe Zulu and Lindiwe Toyi.

As Deputy Finance Minister, Gungubele automatically assumes the role of PIC chairperson. According to economist Lumkile Mondi, Gungubele could make a comeback in the reconstituted board, "unless he has been implicated in malfeasance".

An anonymous whistleblower who has been circulating emails with claims of corruption against PIC officials has implicated several board members in alleged corruption and misconduct, further rattling the structure said to be ridden by conflict.

A resignation letter to Mboweni stated that there had been "various allegations against at least four directors now".

The Commission of Inquiry into the affairs of the asset manager, which manages the Government Employees' Pension Fund (GEPF), last week heard that the board had been rocked by divisions, including its position on how to deal with claims of corruption against former CEO Dan Matjila.

Claudia Manning, who resigned from the PIC in July 2018, testified that some members were satisfied with how the matter had been dealt with internally, while others wanted Matjila suspended, pending an inquiry.

Manning also spoke about leadership instability on the board, with three chairmen in a period of less than three years.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has welcomed the board's resignation, saying while it was not clear whether or not the members had engaged in corrupt activities, it considered the allegations "far too serious to ignore."

The federation urged Parliament to pass the PIC Amendment Bill, which they describe as a "critical tool in the fight against corruption."

The bill is aimed at promoting transparency in the PIC, which manages over R2trn, with the GEPF as its largest client. The bill includes a provision for labour unions to have a say in the investment of workers' money by having three representatives on the board.

"It is one of the most important pro-worker bills since 1994," said Cosatu in a statement.

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