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Reclaim the PIC, use it for what it was set up to do

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Corruption has hijacked the dream of a better life for all.

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THE LATEST revelations at the Mpati Commission into allegations of impropriety at the Public Investment Corporation that senior politicians and their proxies have been milking the crucial asset manager dry since 2014 are deeply concerning.

For some time there were rumours that former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene’s son, Siyabonga, was involved in dealings at the PIC when his father was the chairperson of the board – a clear conflict of interest. It was therefore not surprising when on Monday, Royith Rajdhar, the executive head of impact investing at the PIC, revealed that Siyabonga Nene was involved in an oil transaction worth almost R1billion.

It now makes sense why Nene, who was also deputy finance minister – a position which automatically made him chairperson of the PIC – resigned in a huff, after he was exposed for lying about his visits to the Guptas.

Rajdhar painted a picture of a free-for-all at the R2trillion government asset manager, the largest fund manager on the continent, until five years ago when the entity implemented a policy to regulate the funding of deals involving politically-connected people.

His testimony came weeks after a whistle-blower, James Noko, implicated senior ANC politicians in malfeasance and underhand deals at the PIC.

That the PIC – which manages 87% of the Government Employees Pension Fund, followed by the Unemployment Insurance Fund and the Compensation Commissioner Fund – did not have a policy on politically-connected individuals until 2014 is telling. It appears, however, even with this policy in place, the politically connected continued to cash in at the PIC.

Nene and many others represent how our democratic project of creating “a better life for all” has come to be undermined by a culture of “me and my family first”. Many democracies on the continent have failed to deliver on the promise of the post-colonialism Struggle because of this greed.

This is also underscored by the revelations at the Zondo commission into state capture, which show how corruption has hijacked the dream of a better life for all.

It is also surprising that the trade union movement has allowed the PIC to be a fiefdom of the corrupt political elite, which is in no way serving the interests of the working class. There is a need to reclaim the PIC, and use it for what it was originally set up for.