On early hours of Wednesday, the banking group announced that they have part ways with Sipho Pityana which is subjected to leave the Absa board of directors with immediate effect.
In a statement on the JSE news services SENS, Absa said: “Shareholders are informed the Absa Group and Absa Bank boards have resolved that Sipho M Pityana will cease to be a director of the boards with immediate effect.
“The boards were of the view that through his conduct, Mr Pityana had neglected, or been derelict in, the performance of his functions as a director of the boards.”
This followed a meeting with Pityana where he was provided with an opportunity to address the boards on this issue. Absa said the boards considered Pityana’s responses and came to their decision after extensive deliberation.
According to the statement, the boards considered Pityana’s responses but concluded that “Mr Pityana pursued his own personal interests to the detriment of Absa and thereby created a material and sustained conflict between his interests and those of Absa”.
“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,” the statement reads.
The removal of Pityana from the Absa board comes after he lost key board positions and follows his legal action against the Reserve Bank’s Prudential Authority (PA). Pityana had alleged interference by the PA in his candidacy for the Absa chairperson position.
Yesterday, Kuben Naidoo, CEO of the PA, said in court papers in response to Pityana’s allegations that it did not thwart his chance of being Absa chairperson as he was not nominated for the position and he “simply failed to convince” the Absa board to nominate him.
Pityana resigned from the AngloGold Ashanti board in December after allegations of sexual harassment, which he has denied. These allegations surfaced during the Absa board process to nominate a new chairperson, for which Pityana was initially a strong contender.
Naidoo said Pityana’s rights under the Banks Act were not breached and that the PA did not overstep its authority. “It was open to Absa to undertake its own internal processes with Mr Pityana and then to submit such a written nomination if that was the ultimate decision of its board. This clearly happened and Mr Pityana was heard by the Absa board. The decision simply went against him.”