PIC’s Matjila wants a payout

Under-fire Public Investment Corporation (PIC) chief Dan Matjila is ready to step down and has told senior ANC and government leaders he is intending to ask his board to consider a golden handshake.

Numerous sources say the chief executive has broached the subject with high-level leaders in the ANC and government, but has been urged by some in the party to see out two investigations.

There’s a fear in the ANC that, if Matjila is forced out, he could spill the beans about how senior ANC politicians benefited financially from the PIC, according to party insiders.

A forensic investigation is underway and a pending commission of inquiry announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa could potentially expose damning information about the participation of ANC leaders in PIC transactions that could have a devastating effect on the party.

The PIC is a state-owned enterprise (SOE) responsible for nearly R2-trillion in assets, with more than 98% belonging to government or its employees.

It is understood the ANC is also scrambling to contain grumbling from under-fire executives at the country’s largest SOEs who have threatened to reveal what they know about PIC deals involving senior politicians. These executives are themselves at the centre of investigations into state capture.

At this stage it is not clear what Matjila’s payout could be. But it is understood that Ramaphosa has said the government was not prepared to entertain “ridiculous demands” from the embattled PIC head.

Matjila would not comment on Thursday about the claims that he had confided in ANC and government leaders that he would like to vacate his position with an “amicable settlement”. But he said: “I still remain an employee of the Public Investment Corporation
and have a contract with the company, which runs until the end of 2019. Also note that an employment contract is a confidential matter between an employer and an employee.”

However, at least two sources with direct knowledge of Matjila’s negotiations say his request for the “amicable settlement” reached Ramaphosa’s office a few months ago. Sources have claimed that Ramaphosa is keen for Matjila to leave because he wants the PIC to be led by an individual without a dark cloud hanging over him.

“Cyril doesn’t want to work with dubious people. If there is one thing that irritates him it is corruption,” said one senior government leader.

A faction aligned to ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is worried Ramaphosa might want to appoint someone who will not be sympathetic to the ANC’s call for economic transformation.

“They want to put a white person at the top to run the affairs of the PIC,” said an ANC leader privy to the discussions.

Matjila’s performance at the PIC has been under scrutiny since late last year amid several controversies involving investments that have threatened billions of rands in losses through bad investments.

In some cases, including the funding of companies belonging to controversial media owner Iqbal Survé, questions have been raised about the processes followed.

The PIC’s board is investigating how it paid R4.3-billion for a 29% stake in Survé’s Ayo Technology Solutions even though its assets were estimated at R292-million.

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene revealed in July that the PIC would withdraw its 25% stake in Independent News and Media, which has benefited from more than a billion rand in PIC funding.

As of June, the PIC had recorded losses of about R19-billion from declines in Steinhoff’s listed shares and bonds, as well as the company’s empowerment transaction, which the PIC helped to fund.

In July, another company, Erin Energy, owned by Kase Lawal, a former president Jacob Zuma benefactor, filed for bankruptcy, which threatened a R4-billion PIC investment that has been reported as “dodgy”.

The forensic investigation into the PIC, announced by Nene in July, is focusing on allegations that Pretty Louw, alleged to be Matjila’s girlfriend, indirectly benefited from R21-million in funding from the state-owned entity.

It was further alleged that Matjila had requested a PIC-funded businessperson, Lawrence Mulaudzi, to pay a R300 000 personal debt for Louw.

An initial probe by the PIC’s board cleared Matjila of any wrongdoing after he allegedly discredited the whistleblower and the process that was followed.

Nene has been under considerable pressure from opposition politicians, including United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa, Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier, and also from the ANC because of his lack of action in the debacle.

Holomisa’s stance was that Nene could not allow the PIC board, of which Matjila was a part of, to investigate allegations against the chief executive while he was there. He also called for the PIC to be part of the commission of inquiry into state capture being chaired by Judge Raymond Zondo.

The Mail &Guardian understands that Magashule’s eagerness to appear before the Zondo commission is partly because he wants to raise the alleged capture of the PIC and leaders behind it.

In July, after meeting Ramaphosa, who had also been petitioned to intervene, Nene instructed the PIC’s board to institute a forensic investigation into the allegations.

In August, Ramaphosa’s office announced an independent inquiry into the affairs of the PIC.

Holomisa again criticised the instruction, saying Nene was giving the responsibility of the investigation to the very same people who may be tainted. At the time he said Nene “cannot rely on the very same board and the chief executive officer, Dr Dan Matjila, to be player and referee. This smacks of favouritism and protection of a person that might be on the wrong side of the law once the commission gets to work.”

An ANC NEC member with intimate knowledge of the issues at the PIC said the finance minister’s instruction to the board came only after Ramaphosa’s intervention.

The president was one of the insiders who were concerned about Nene’s public posture as well as apparent inaction on the PIC’s troubles.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Thanduxolo Jika
Thanduxolo Jika

Thanduxolo Jika is an investigative Journalist and Co-Author of We are going to kill each other today:The Marikana Story. The Messiah of Abantu.

Sabelo Skiti

Sabelo Skiti is an investigative journalist.

Related stories

#CR17 fight heads to the Constitutional Court

amaBhungane’s arguments about the disclosure of campaign funding are also expected to be heard

Editorial: Political meddling won’t save the SABC

For years, in moves that harked back to the repressive regime of the Nats, the public broadcaster has been used by the party as its political football in internal factional battles, or to censor dissent.

Ace prepares ANC branches for battle

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is ignoring party policy on corruption-charged officials and taking his battle to branch level, where his ‘slate capture’ strategy is expected to leave Ramaphosa on the ropes

Xenophobic tensions surge in KZN

Amid protests by the ANC’s MK Military Veterans, distressed foreign nationals have shut their stalls at a Durban flea market

‘Stand aside’ rule fails the Ace test

The ANC has stalled on setting ground rules for cleanout of comrades accused of corruption

‘Probe Free State tenders under Magashule’

A centralised procurement programme in the province allegedly operated under the former premier

Subscribers only

Covid-19 surges in the Eastern Cape

With people queuing for services, no water, lax enforcement of mask rules and plenty of partying, the virus is flourishing once again, and a quarter of the growth is in the Eastern Cape

Ace prepares ANC branches for battle

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is ignoring party policy on corruption-charged officials and taking his battle to branch level, where his ‘slate capture’ strategy is expected to leave Ramaphosa on the ropes

More top stories

Limpopo big-game farmer accused of constant harassment

A family’s struggle against alleged intimidation and failure to act by the authorities mirrors the daily challenges farm dwellers face

Did Botswana execute ‘poachers’ ?

The Botswana Defence Force’s anti-poaching unit has long been accused of a ‘shoot to kill’ policy. Over 20 years the unit has killed 30 Namibians and 22 Zimbabweans

Zondo tightens his grip with criminal complaint against Zuma

The state capture commission’s star witness now faces a criminal complaint and another summons

Sharp sting of the Green Scorpions

Crime busters secure a 97% conviction rate and register more criminal dockets for range of crimes

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…