July 25, 2019 / 5:13 PM / 5 months ago

Former banker appointed head of South Africa's scandal-hit state pension fund

JOHANNESBURG, July 25 (Reuters) - Former Nedbank chairman Reuel Khoza has been appointed to head South Africa’s 2 trillion rand ($141 billion) Public Investment Corporation (PIC) in an effort to restore the scandal-plagued pension fund’s reputation. Khoza replaces South Africa’s former Deputy Finance Minister Mondli Gungubele as chairman of the PIC board, marking the first time the head of the fund responsible for billions of rand in government employee pensions has been chosen from outside the ranks of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

The role typically goes to the deputy finance minister, but South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa has been forced into a rethink after a series of scandals and bad investments that prompted the collective resignation of the PIC board and CEO and triggered a judicial inquiry into governance failures.

The National Assembly this month adopted an amendment to the PIC bill to give lawmakers greater oversight over the fund manager.

In the past two weeks former PIC chief Dan Matjila, testifying at the judicial inquiry, admitted he and his staff had come under pressure from politically connected individuals to bankroll deals without the required due diligence.

PIC is Africa’s biggest fund manager and the largest investor in the Johannesburg stock market and economy at large, holding the lion’s share of debt in state concerns such as Eskom and Transnet as well as private companies such as Anglo American , Steinhoff and Shoprite.

“The first thing is to restore stability, but simultaneously we are on the search for a permanent CEO. Even the other senior positions that are populated by acting people need to be filled,” Khoza told journalists soon after his appointment.

“We want to restore the glory of the PIC.” (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana Editing by David Goodman)

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