Christo van der Rheede, executive director of Agri SA, has expressed certainty that the newly installed board of the Land Bank, and a new CEO, who still has to be appointed, will inspire confidence in the bank.
“The Land Bank is too big an institution to fail and should be protected at all costs. This can be achieved through clarity and certainty about the direction the bank is taking, especially in terms of its core focus areas.”
He was responding to the recent resignations of Land Bank CEO Ayanda Kanana and executive manager of agricultural economics and advisory Dr Litha Magingxa.
The announcement came only a few days after Kanana appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance, during which he told members of Parliament that a third proposal or “liability solution” for the bank was on the table.
Kanana, whose notice period was due to end in April, joined the bank in March 2020 and oversaw repayment of R11,4 billion to creditors in 2021, resulting in a 28% reduction of debt. Magingxa was credited for “greatly improving the effectiveness of the entity’s advisory services and leading the bank’s strategy division through current challenges”.
Magingxa had reportedly been offered the position of CEO of the Agricultural Research Council, while there was uncertainty about the reasons behind Kanana’s departure.
In a statement, the Land Bank committed itself to “diligently build on the momentum towards the implementation of a solution to cure the bank’s state of default, while prioritising the realignment of the entity with its core developmental mandate”.
The board was also engaging with Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana to ensure leadership continuity, the statement said. However, Noko Masipa, DA member of Parliament, said the resignation of key leadership personnel from the bank had not come as a surprise and demonstrated a lack of confidence in the direction government had taken with the bank.
He said that due to poor succession planning, the bank had been without a CEO for 18 months before Kanana was appointed, and had received a disclaimer audit opinion by the Auditor-General for the 2020 financial year, followed by a qualified audit in 2021.
In recent years, according to Masipa, the Land Bank had also been riddled with corruption, resulting in losses of over R60 million.