Businessman Sipho Pityana has been fired from the Absa board. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

ABSA announced on Wednesday that it has fired Sipho Pityana from its board of directors, alleging that he had not performed his functions as a director properly, and that he acted in his own interest and not in Absa’s best interest.

According to the statement, this created a ‘sustained and irresoluble’ conflict between the parties.

“While the boards respect Mr Pityana’s individual right to administrative fairness, unfortunately in this matter, the boards concluded that the pursuit of his personal interest at the cost of the group’s interest created a sustained and irresoluble conflict. Absa has a duty to its stakeholders to put the group’s interest before individual interests,” said the banking group.

Pityana’s dismissal followed after he sued the Prudential Authority of the Reserve Bank in October, claiming his nomination to become Absa’s chairman had been unfairly blocked after former Absa CEO, Maria Ramos, informally informed the authority’s head, Kuben Naidoo, of a sexual harassment incident and investigation involving him when he was the chairman of AngloGold Ashanti.

“Absa opposed the application because the advice Absa has received is that the relief sought by Mr Pityana implicates Absa in participating in what he alleges was an unlawful informal process by the Prudential Authority.” the bank said in a statement.

Pityana confirmed that he will take this decision by the Absa board on review.

He has also responded to the Absa board decision, describing it as “disappointing and unlawful”. 

“The Absa board right at the outset expressed a clear view that I shouldn’t challenge the regulator. Of course, in terms of the law I am entitled to do so, and so is the board entitled to challenge them. I’m an affected party in a material decision that the regulator took, and advised the board that in light of the fact that the feedback that they received from the regulator had directly constituted a direct attack on my integrity and standing and reputation, I therefore had no option but to challenge the regulator,” Pityana told online media platform Moneyweb on Wednesday.

“I also made the point to the board that beyond the attack on my person, the interference by the regulator in a role that is otherwise the preserve of the board should have meant that the board in fact also joined me in the action to challenge the regulator. I couldn’t persuade them to take that view, but my perspective remained that. That’s the first point. “

“The second point is that since I took that decision, as you would know, I was asked to resign from the board because the Absa board felt that by taking that decision I was in turn attacking the Absa board and implying that they, like the regulator, may have acted unlawfully, even though my court papers are very clear that I have cited them as an interested party. But I’m seeking no relief against them.”

He added: “Thirdly, they also, as you know, recently removed me from the position of being lead independent director and chairman of the remuneration board, in order to express their displeasure at my determination to challenge the unlawful conduct of the regulator. So this time they’ve decided to remove me from the board, which I have to say is unbelievable that – in a country of a constitutional order – approaching the courts in pursuit of one’s rights is such an offence to a leading corporate of Absa’s standing that I would be removed from my board. I’m disappointed and I think it’s an outrage.”

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