Pityana heads one of Africa's top firms

A PROUD son of the Eastern Cape, Sipho Pityana, has taken over the reins as board chairman of AngloGold Ashanti, one of Africa's top 40 companies, employing 60000 people around the world.

Pityana, 54, who grew up in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, was elected unanimously by the AngloGold Ashanti board yesterday to replace former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni.

"I am very humbled to be taking over at such a good company with a great tradition," Pityana said.

AngloGold Ashanti said Mboweni had decided not to stand for re-election at the annual meeting to be held in May due to an "increasing portfolio of professional commitments". This comes amid mounting speculation that Mboweni could be appointed finance minister after the general election‚ when Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan reaches retirement age.

Pityana said none of his other positions on the various boards of companies he sits on would be affected by his new appointment.

Apart from being chairman of JSE-listed Onelogix and Munich Reinsurance of Africa, he is also a director of two Eastern Cape manufacturing companies, Aberdare Cables and Scaw Metals.

"My investments already have a serious presence in the Eastern Cape and it will always be my place of pride," he said. "I have a house in PE and I am a son of the Eastern Cape."

His politically outspoken brother, Barney, is the rector of the College of Transfiguration in Grahamstown.

Before entering the private sector, Pityana served as director-general in the departments of Labour and Foreign Affairs. He was one of the founding members of the governing body of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and convener of the government delegation at the National Economic Development and Labour Council.

He also holds an MSc in politics and sociology from the University of Essex.

Pityana had been a non-executive director of AngloGold Ashanti for the past seven years. The company has a worldwide exploration programme and operates in 11 countries on four continents.

On the company's relationship with worker unions, Pityana said: "We try to go the extra mile to help solve labour issues. People spend at least eight hours per day at work, and this needs to be a happy and fulfilling experience.

"The mining industry is going through a difficult time and I would like to lift the company to new heights as chairman by growing the jobs and the economy, as well as the shareholders' value and return."

Mboweni, who turns 55 next month, has agreed to work closely with Pityana to ensure a seamless handover.

AngloGold Ashanti chief executive Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan said the company was looking forward to working with Pityana in his new role.

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