Tuesday’s sole witness at the Public Investment Corporation’s commission of inquiry is a non-executive director who resigned from the post when the board became divided over investigations into the conduct of former PIC chief executive Dan Matjila.
Claudia Manning will begin her testimony on Tuesday morning before commission chair Justice Lex Mpati. The commission is looking into whether there has been any improper conduct and a breach of governance policies in the handling of investments and investigations at the PIC.
Mpati is being assisted by former Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus and investment and asset manager expert Emmanuel Lediga.
In July 2018, Manning stepped down as a non-executive director of the PIC reportedly in protest over board chairperson, deputy finance minister Mondli Gungubele’s decision to not oppose a court application calling for Matjila’s removal.
A Business Day report at the time said Gungubele’s actions left half of the board dissatisfied including then Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.
The application brought by United Democratic Movement Leader Bantu Holomisa sought to get Nene to suspend Matjila.
Matjila had been accused of using the PIC’s corporate social investment money to fund the business of his alleged girlfriend to the tune of R21-million. In addition, he was said to have instructed a company which the PIC had invested in to give her a R300 000 payment to settle her personal debts.
The accusations came from the contents of an email sent by an anonymous whistleblower going by the name of “James Nogu”. Matjila was cleared of any wrongdoing when an internal investigation could not confirm the veracity of the allegations.
On Monday, Frans Lekubo, the director of Naledi Advisory Services — the company which was contracted to investigate the identity of the whistleblower — said Nogu’a identity is still unknown.
The PIC manages pensions on behalf of government employees. These make up 88% the R2-trillion it has under its management. The corporation has been the subject of increased scrutiny in the period between 2017 and 2018.
The commission is meant to restore the institution’s governance and restore the public’s confidence in the PIC.
Manning will be speaking for the first time since she stepped down and her testimony could bring light to what was happening within the board at the time.
This is the last sitting of the public hearings for this week after which the commission will have a two-week break to compile an interim report that should be handed to President Cyril Ramaphosa on February 15.