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In 2018, parliamentarian Bantu Holomisa went public with a slew of allegations against Harith founder Tshepo Mahloele – accusing him of being the kingpin in a network of corruption and worse than the Guptas. After being cleared by a fifth successive investigation, this time by the PIC and GEPF, Mahloele is moving onto the offensive, launching a campaign for South Africa to introduce US-style punitive damages – starting with the politician. Mahloele says the cost to his businesses of these baseless allegations runs into hundreds of millions of rand, including the aborting of numerous business opportunities caused by what has now been proved to be Holomisa’s lies. He says a proper deterrent is needed to force appropriate consequences onto those who destroy through propagating falsehoods. Mahloele spoke to Alec Hogg of BizNews.
Media statement: Truth prevails as Mpati Commission-ordered forensic probe vindicates Harith General Partners in the long-running campaign to tarnish its image
Issued by Sipho Makhubela – Harith CEO
- Forensic investigation finds that Harith did not act improperly towards PIC and GEPF.
- Harith did not enrich itself by charging PIC and GEPF “exorbitant” management fees. ▪ Fees charged by Harith to investors found to be standard, and in line with industry norm.
- Allegations of impropriety levelled at Mr Mahloele and Mr Moleketi dismissed and found to be without substance.
- PIC forensic probe is the fifth process to test the allegations, all returning with no findings of wrong-doing on Harith’s part.
Harith General Partners is satisfied that the truth has finally prevailed in the years-long, sustained and malicious campaign to taint it with allegations of malfeasance. This comes after the forensic investigation commissioned by the PIC concluded in its final report that there was no evidence to support the damaging allegations made more than 5 years ago by a Senior Member of Parliament. The report vindicates Harith which has had to operate under a human-made cloud of suspicion, peppered with sporadic, gratuitous, false and unfair political attacks on its brand and reputation. Harith welcomes the fact that the Public Investment Corporation and Government Employees Pension Fund commissioned investigation has made findings that align precisely with every aspect of what we have consistently told South Africans all along; that Harith has been scrupulous in all its dealings with the PIC and the GEPF.
The forensic probe was commissioned jointly by the PIC and the GEPF, in fulfilment of recommendations by the Mpati Commission into the affairs of the PIC. It has now returned with findings that respond directly, adequately and finally to each of the questions the Mpati Commission felt needed further investigation, namely;
1. “To examine the entire PAIDF [Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund] initiative to determine that all monies due to both parties [PIC and GEPF] have been paid and properly accounted for” [Page 435. Para 66 of the Commission report]
2. “To determine whether any monies due to overcharging or any other malpractice should be recovered” [Page 435. Para 66 of the Commission report]
3. “The board of the PIC should examine whether the role played by either Mr Moleketi and Mr Mahloele breached their fiduciary duties or the fit and proper test required of a director in terms of the Companies Act” [Page 435. Para 67 of the Commission report]
In a letter summing up the report’s findings on all these questions, the PIC and GEPF have informed Harith that: “The investigation found that there was no evidence to support the allegations that were made with regard to Harith General Partners and Harith Fund Managers”
Harith welcomes the forensic investigation findings, and now considers the allegations of impropriety against it, in their various iterations, to be now well and truly ventilated. This latest probe is the fifth process that has looked into these matters, with Harith’s full cooperation, and with none of them making any findings of wrong-doing against the company. The full gambit of processes that have looked into and disposed of these allegations is;
1. The Mpati Commission; whose outcomes raised a number of unwarranted questions without making any firm findings against Harith, Mr Tshepo Mahloele, and Mr Jabulani Moleketi. Instead of making firm findings, the commission recommended a joint-forensic probe by the PIC and the GEPF.
2. The Constitutional Court case of UDM v Lebashe and others; which among others found that the UDM and Mr Bantu Holomisa “…did not provide any shred of evidence of actual misconduct, corruption and self-dealing” [UDM v Lebashe judgment, para 59], and “The applicants were not entitled to wantonly defame the respondents under the pretext that they were executing a constitutional duty…it was not for the public benefit to publish the unverified defamatory information” [UDM v Lebashe judgment, para 62]
3. The South African Venture and Private Capital Association (SAVCA); concluded; “ The committee is of the view that the legal and fee structures set out in the fund terms are in line with industry standards.” And “The committee found no contravention of the SAVCA Code of Conduct based on the information contained in the PIC report and the evidence received from Harith.”
4. Harith’s own forensic investigation conducted by Crowe Forensics SA and Advocate Terry Motau SC; It investigated the Harith fees structure for the PAIDF PAIDF 1 and PAIDF 2 and found it to be “Comparable at the relevant time period with other Private Equity funds in the industry”. It concluded: “Harith [has] not yet earned any incentive fees – any allegation that the Fund Managers have earned “rich rewards” in regard to incentive fees (carried interest) is therefore without substance. Based thereon, it is therefore apparent that the allegations set out in the PIC Report in regard to the Harith fee structures (for PAIDF 1 and PAIDF 2) are unfounded”
5. PIC and GEPF joint forensic report; which was ordered by the Mpati Commission and whose outcomes are contained in the latest report.
“Harith operates in the highly-regulated financial services sector, so we are no strangers to, and are quite comfortable with heightened scrutiny. Our line of business requires the utmost fidelity to those who entrust us with their funds and investments. That’s why throughout these processes that have ensued since these allegations were first raised, we have been fully cooperative and played open-cards at every stage”, said Harith CEO Sipho Makhubela.
“This is therefore not a case of Harith being “cleared” by the forensic probe. It is a case of the forensic probe arriving at the only logical destination of the truth-seeking exercise that any conscientious investigation was inevitably destined to reach; a finding that the truth has been on our side all along” – added Makhubela.
Read more: UDM’s Holomisa loses appeal against Harith
Throughout all these processes, Harith’s detractors have been able to wantonly, and with no consequence, continue to cast aspersions on a lawfully established and legitimately operating corporate entity, exacting an incalculable toll on the company, its brand, credibility in the market, employees, shareholders, investors, as well as business and financial relationships. Throughout this saga, the callous campaign to destroy Harith and the reputations of Messrs Mahloele and Moleketi was thinly-masked as an exercise of political or parliamentary “oversight”, and insults hurled at them became the trading stock of a politician and his entity who were seeking to shore-up their dimming prospects. Those politicians and their fellow travellers who gave their lies currency and buoyancy now crawl back into the woodwork, while the victims of their sustained slander are left to repair the extensive damage they wrought on their reputations and brands. The kind of brand and character assassination Mr Holomisa and his ilk embarked upon in the past five years is a sinister perversion of political and constitutional oversight and checks and balances!
Yet, even through this period, Harith was not cowered, and continued to focus on its vision of harnessing Africa’s capital muscle towards the development of socio-economically impactful infrastructure across the continent, an undertaking that was made infinitely harder by this economic sniping campaign. Harith considers this sordid chapter closed, and places its trust in the discerning people of South Africa and the continent, who know too well that “lies have short legs”.
ABOUT HARITH GENERAL PARTNERS: Founded in 2006, Harith General Partners is the leading Pan-African investor and developer for infrastructure across the continent. With over $1.2 billion of total assets under management, Harith provides investors with exposure to major projects in diversified sectors including energy, transport and digital infrastructure. As a fund manager for the Pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF), we currently manage investments across eight African countries: Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
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