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On Monday, while most SA news-focused eyes were on Jacob Zuma at the Zondo Commission in Johannesburg, something equally riveting went down across the Jukskei. Star witness at the Mpati commission was Abel Sithole, who since April 2015 has headed the Government Employees’ Pension Fund.
Sithole’s post carries huge responsibility. The GEPF is one of the largest pension funds in the world, and comfortably the biggest in Africa. It is also the PIC’s number one client, again by some distance. Sithole’s members entrust the PIC with their retirement savings. And they’re not happy.
Sithole squashed politician Bantu Holomisa’s wild allegations which instigated the commission, but he didn’t hold back on what has become its big issue: a R4.3bn investment into Iqbal Survé’s Ayo Technologies. It was made without the GEPF’s permission, something Sithole would never have given.
Those billions injected on GEPF members’ behalf broke many rules – the deal was done at a massively inflated valuation; and to an entrepreneur who had already defaulted on a billion rand debt. Worse, now Ayo won’t (or can’t) pay back the money. The PIC argues it did not need its client’s approval. Right.
PS – On Rational Radio at 5pm this evening: Lord Peter Hain on Bain; Chris Logan on Hulamin; David Shapiro (or course); Investec’s Peter Baird and What3word’s Lyndsey Duff. Bookmark www.biznewsradio.com.
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