Former Port Elizabeth Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PERCCI) chief executive, Kevin Wakeford, who lost his job at SACOB after raising the alarm about the plummeting rand nearly 15 years ago, has been appointed the chief executive of the Armaments Corporation of South Africa (Armscor).
His appointment was announced on Friday at a post-Cabinet briefing to the media at Parliament by Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe. He confirmed that the former Sacob chair had received the Cabinet’s sanction.
Kevin Wakeford was born in Port Elizabeth in 1962. He matriculated from Muir College, and later graduated from the University of Port Elizabeth with a BA (Hon) cum laude for which he received academic colours.
During his studies he worked for the Institute for a Democratic Alternative for South Africa (IDASA) and was a well known activist fighting for non-racialism and democracy. Shortly after he completed his studies, he worked for the Consultative Business Movement whose purpose was the engagement of liberation movements on economic issues.
Kevin’s work experience ranges from the academic, manufacturing, financial, and healthcare sectors. He has spent much of his time in the halls of organised business, where he has held the positions of the CEO of the Port Elizabeth Regional Chamber (PERCCI) and the South African Chamber of Business (SACOB). He has received numerous awards ranging from the PE Citizen of the Year to the Eastern Cape’s Institute of Marketing Management’s Marketer of the Year. Both these awards recognised his foundational role in getting the multi-billion rand Coega Project off the ground and raising awareness of PE’s economic vision and “putting the PE Metro on the economic map!”
In recent years Wakeford has advised the Minister of Home Affairs and the Eastern Cape premier, and has been involved in a turnaround strategy at the East Cape Development Corporation.
Journalist Barry Sergeant has published an account of the Wakeford story in The Assault on the Rand .
When the rand collapsed from R7.60 to R13.84 to the US dollar in 2001, Wakeford blew the whistle. He accused three big corporates and a global bank of being party to manipulation in the currency markets. He warned the rand could collapse to R40 to R50 to the dollar.
Then president Thabo Mbeki in 2001 appointed the Rand Commission to investigate his claims. The rand’s collapse was arrested and – for a while – reversed.
Wakeford has publicly acknowledged that he went into internal exile and was for a while rendered unemployable, but he has now bounced back to work at one of South Africa’s troubled state-owned companies.
Armscor is the arms procurement agency of the South African Department of Defence. It was plunged into scandal involving military aircraft acquisition, in particular relating to South Africa’s controversial arms deal.
The then chief executive Sipho Thomo was fired by then chairperson Popo Molefe in 2010. Since then, Sipho Mkwanazi has been acting chief executive.
The Armscor board is now chaired by former SA Navy chief vice-admiral (Ret) Johannes Mudimu.
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