Steinhoff audit committee chair 'must go'‚ says Fedusa

20 April 2018 - 15:01 By Petru Saal And Madeline Harvey
Steinhoff office in Stellenbosch. File Photo.
Steinhoff office in Stellenbosch. File Photo.
Image: Steinhoff

The Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) on Friday reiterated its call for Steinhoff’s audit committee chairperson‚ Steve Booysen‚ to resign and wants the company to appoint a new board.

Steinhoff’s annual general meeting took place in the Netherlands on Friday and was streamed live to the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Speaking at a press conference on Friday‚ Fedusa general secretary Dennis George said the board was at the helm when the scandal and subsequent departure of the company’s CEO‚ Markus Jooste‚ amid allegations of accounting irregularities. Jooste resigned with immediate effect in December last year.

“If a person looks at the composition of the board‚ we feel that the board is the biggest instrument that can bring about change because the board is the body that leads the organisation that takes decisions on behalf of the organisation‚” George said.

“We have written to the chairperson [saying] lets agree to appoint somebody from the workers on the board. Because then we can observe these things on a day to day basis. Then we can make input to turn the company around. Because we need ethical leadership and credible leadership. If you are in position of trust‚ you can’t be the first one that wants to leave. You must look after the company.”

“For us‚ the most important part of this meeting is for our stakeholders to raise objections to what was happening at Steinhoff. You recall the share price in December was trading at R45 a share. And the CEO‚ who was leading a process of acquisitions across Europe‚ resigned with immediate effect. But before that there was already various kinds of rumours and inquiries that were going about‚ about the ethical leadership of the board. The CEO resigned and the share price dropped by 95%.”

“We firmly believe that the same directors that brought the company to its knees cannot be the same directors that are going to lead the company out of this disaster‚” George said.

Provincial manager for the Public Servants Association in the Western Cape‚ Koos Kruger‚ said a culture of accountability needed to be instilled at corporations.

A group of people picketed outside the convention centre.

Congress of South African Students chairperson Michael Mayalo said students had joined the picket out of concern for the pensions of their parents and teachers.

“We want to see an apology‚ and we want them to bring our poor parents’ money back‚” Mayalo said.