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Finance ministry denies plans are in place to fire PIC CEO Matjila

The finance ministry has denied rumours that there are plans afoot to oust Dan Matjila, the chief executive of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), in a statement on Thursday afternoon.

The deputy minister of finance, Sfiso Buthelezi, who is the PIC’s board chairperson, said the allegations are “unfounded, baseless and are causing unnecessary panic over an internal matter at the PIC”.

“There are no preconceived plans whatsoever to remove Dr Matjila,” Buthelezi said.

The statement came after media reports that Matjila is being called before the PIC’s board to answer allegations of corruption at a hastily convened special board meeting this Friday.

Buthelezi said that the PIC board “has indeed called for a meeting on Friday with the CEO, but this is to discuss and get clarification from him on internal matters.”

The allegations come amid growing concerns that the PIC, which manages R1.8-trillion in public servant pensions, will be pressured to bailout the country’s failing parastatals, becoming a new avenue to loot state coffers.

Chief among them is South African Airways, which has been plagued by allegations of poor governance.

The state is scrambling to find R10-billion to rescue the state airline, after already providing it with a R2.3-billion cash injection, in June.

In addition, private investors have been unwilling to buy bonds from other major parastatals, such as Eskom and Transnet, making it difficult for them to raise money. There is mounting worry that the PIC will be forced to increase, already substantial, holdings of their debt to prop these companies up.

Both Transnet and Eskom have been mired in allegations of corruption and state capture with several lucrative contracts at both firms allegedly linked to the Gupta family.

In 2015, Matjila was named, along with senior treasury officials and then deputy finance Mcebisi Jonas, in a questionable intelligence report entitled “Project Spiderweb”.

Matjila, as chief executive of the PIC, and Jonas, as its then chairperson, were accused of being in cahoots with the “white establishment”, including the likes of billionaire Johan Rupert, to influence economic and fiscal policy.

Jonas would subsequently become one of the public faces against state capture, after he made a public statement detailing an alleged attempt by members of the Gupta family to offer him the post of finance minister.

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Lynley Donnelly
Lynley Donnelly
Lynley is a senior business reporter at the Mail & Guardian. But she has covered everything from social justice to general news to parliament - with the occasional segue into fashion and arts. She keeps coming to work because she loves stories, especially the kind that help people make sense of their world.

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