'Highly irregular that Gungubele asked PIC board to step down,' inquiry hears

PIC board member Sandra Beswick has emphasised that the board did not communicate with the Finance Minister directly, confirming it was chairman Mondi Gungubele who conveyed this message.

A screengrab of non-executive PIC director Sandra Beswick at the PIC inquiry on 27 February 2019.

JOHANNESBURG - Public Investment Corporation (PIC) board member Sandra Beswick said on Wednesday it was highly irregular to have been asked to resign along with the rest of the board, but she says she was under the impression that a new board would be appointed.

Beswick has corroborated evidence given by board member Dudu Hlatshwayo who revealed on Tuesday that chairman Mondi Gungubele told the board the Finance Minister wanted everyone to resign otherwise they would be fired.

PIC inquiry hears of divisions between Gungubele and board members

Beswick has emphasised that the board did not communicate with the minister directly, confirming it was Gungubele who conveyed this message.

“The finance minister was allegedly angry at the allegations contained in the mails and said the board must consider resigning immediately, failing which he will fire us and appoint an interim board within the next week. This demand was highly irregular because the repercussions could be disastrous for the PIC.”

Beswick said the concerns she raised about investments and processes at the corporation were largely ignored.

The PIC’s R4.3 billion investment in Ayo Technologies is just one of the issues that is being scrutinised.

Beswick said she red-flagged certain investments at the PIC, including the controversial deal with Ayo Technologies, VBS Mutual Bank and Daybreak Farms.

She said she was uncomfortable with the decision taken to suspend only two employees over the Ayo investment based on an interim report.

The inquiry is scheduled to continue next week.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)