The new boss at the PIC is an inspired choice - but he should sleep with one eye open

Business Insider International


Reuel Khoza. Photo: Elvira Wood
  • The new PIC chair, Reuel Khoza, is an open enemy of the state capture set.
  • He should expect pushback from that crowd.
  • But Khoza is smart and agile - and has often stood up to bullies.
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Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s inspired choice of the chair of the Public Investment Corporation needs to be applauded.

Reuel Khoza, an outspoken critic of state capture since before it had a name, is no stranger to tackling malfeasance and has made it his mission to stand up to political bullies.

He is going to need the resolve of every fibre of his being to remain resilient in the ongoing political attacks on state institutions.

That’s precisely why the canny Mboweni appointed him and broke with the flawed tradition of a deputy finance minister being given access to the country’s biggest pension fund.

Read: Everything you need to know about David Masondo - SA's young new deputy minister of finance

Mboweni needs someone he can trust as vultures used to feasting on the decaying carrion of the failing state are increasingly finding their natural habitat encroached upon.

Khoza composes choral music for fun.

He is one of the country’s biggest avocado exporters, has written several books on leadership, run his own investment firm, variously chaired Nedbank through its recovery period and previously also oversaw the Eskom board, back when it was solvent and produced more power than the country needed more cheaply than most.

He’s not shy to stand up for principle.

In 2012 he used the Nedbank annual report to openly challenge the Zuma administration, referring to the country’s leadership back then as a “strange breed”. In the aftermath of Nhlanhla Nene’s sacking as finance minister in 2015, he publicly berated the then President Jacob Zuma for replacing him with Des van Rooyen, whom he described as “a nondescript someone of questionable experience”.

But not even he had joined the dots at that stage around the attempt to seize control of the National Treasury to deepen the plunder of the state.

Evidence presented at the PIC inquiry in recent months has seen similar allegations made about dubious transactions carried out for the personal benefit of a plethora of dubious individuals.

The PIC manages about R2.2 trillion in investments on behalf of civil servants.

The ANC is debating whether South Africa should introduce a regime of prescribed assets, previously used by PW Botha to prop up his failing state. Khoza has been around the block often enough to know when someone is looking to pull a fast one. He will be there to provide critical oversight of workers money.

It’s only a question of time however before questions get asked about his appointment. It cannot be beyond the realms of possibility that the public protector will be asked to investigate.

Just a hunch.

Bruce Whitfield is a multi-platform award-winning financial journalist and broadcaster.

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