In another clear indication that the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) was subjected to wide-scale political interference, its former CEO Dan Matjila admitted to playing a middleman role in referring PIC funding requests from the ANC to prominent business figures.
As PIC CEO over the past four years, Matjila oversaw R1.8-trillion of pension money that he managed on behalf of government employees.
So far, Matjila has portrayed himself as a victim, telling the commission of inquiry into governance issues at the PIC that he was pressurised by prominent business figures and politicians to release investment funds to their entities or for their personal gain.
This started as early as 2005 when was appointed as PIC chief investment officer, a powerful position in which he would oversee investment decisions, until he was appointed as the fund manager’s CEO from 2014 to 2018.
In one incident of political interference, Matjila said he was asked in 2016 by the ANC’s then treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize to release funding from the PIC to support the party’s annual January 8 event.
The event is big on the ANC’s social calendar as it celebrates the party’s birthday/anniversary. The party was founded on 8 January 1912. The January 8 event also sets the tone for the ANC’s socio-economic developmental promises to the nation for the year. The big cost of this birthday celebration means that the ANC usually asks for donations or embarks on fund-raising efforts to bankroll it.
Party political funding is not the mandate of the PIC, which manages state workers’ pension funds and social funds such as the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
When Mkhize allegedly asked Matjila for PIC funding assistance ahead of the party’s January 8 event, Matjila said he referred the request to Lawrence Mulaudzi, a businessman linked to investment holding firm Kilimanjaro Capital, which has received funding from the PIC.
Matjila admitted that he received numerous funding requests from senior politicians when he was the CIO and CEO of the PIC. Matjila said he didn’t personally facilitate these funding requests or approve them.
Instead, he referred these funding requests to prominent business figures, whose entities have received funding from the PIC. These figures included Sipho Mseleku (Sakhumnotho Group), Lawrence Mulaudzi (Kilimanjaro Capital) and Siyanda Resources chairman Lindani Mthwa.
Arguably, Matjila was a middleman, as he referred ANC funding requests from politicians to business figures that benefitted from PIC funding.
Asked by Gill Marcus, who assists the commissioner of the PIC inquiry, retired Justice Lex Mpati, if he sees anything wrong with his middleman role, Matjila said funding requests from political parties are normal.
“All I can say is that we do receive such requests… At the time, I was simply relaying the message from a senior politician [Mkhize]. I appreciate it now that the PIC cannot get involved in political funding.”
Matjila is at the centre of corruption allegations at the PIC as he is accused of approving deals based on favouritism rather than commercial viability.
One of the deals includes the PIC’s controversial R4.3-billion investment in AYO Technology Solutions, majority-owned by Sekunjalo Investments, which in turn is owned by Iqbal Survé.
The AYO deal was controversial due to the high valuation it commanded when it listed in 2017 on the JSE, which saw the PIC take a 29% stake at R43/share. Ayo’s shares were worth R9 during the intra-day trade on 10 July, meaning that the PIC has lost about R3-billion from its initial investment. BM