The Public Investment Corp. appointed Reuel Khoza as its first non-political chairman, boosting the independence of the crisis-hit manager of South African civil-servant pensions as it battles to restore its reputation.
The long-honored tradition of giving the chairman's job to the deputy finance minister was "bad practice," Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said Thursday in Pretoria. Mr. Khoza, 69, will lead a 14-strong set of directors appointed earlier this month after the previous board resigned in the wake of a string of scandals.
"Khoza is regarded as fair, competent and apolitical," said David Shapiro, a money manager at Sasfin Holdings in Johannesburg. "It's a big job, but he's not tainted and will oversee governance procedures needed at the PIC."
Mr. Khoza was chairman of state-power utility Eskom Holdings SOC for about five years until 2002, well before the company plunged into a debt crisis. He is also a former chairman of Nedbank Group and holds the same role at closely held companies Dzana Investments and AKA Capital.
His deputy is Sindi Mabaso-Koyano, 49, a chartered accountant with experience on several boards including Eskom, which she joined as part of President Cyril Ramaphosa's overhaul early last year.
A judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of wrongdoing at the PIC is ongoing with the probe having heard from several former employees and board members. Witnesses have told the commission how processes were routinely flouted, policies were breached and questionable investments were made by senior managers. They included the purchase of Eskom bonds and shares in little-known technology company Ayo Technology Solutions.
A pressing priority for Mr. Khoza will be to appoint a chief executive officer to replace Daniel Matjila, who was ousted in November. A successor is expected to be appointed in three to six months, the new chairman told reporters. Acting CEO Vuyani Hako will continue in the meantime.
Mr. Matjila completed his 11th day of testimony before the commission earlier Thursday. He said the PIC needs to use its role as a significant shareholder in Ayo to put together stronger management and revive Ayo's share price.
After listing at 43 rand ($3.37), Ayo's stock has slumped to 9 rand. Mr. Matjila said certain aspects of Ayo's growth plan haven't materialized, while litgation involving Ayo and even testimony presented to the inquiry has weighed on the stock.
Other new directors include Ivan Fredericks, general manager of labor group the Public Servants Association of South Africa, and Maria Ramos, a former director general of the National Treasury and CEO of lender Absa Group until earlier this year.