PIC chair ‘withheld’ Matjila’s disputed resignation letter

Public Investment Corporation (PIC) board chairperson Mondli Gungubele withheld former chief executive Dan Matjila’s resignation letter from the PIC board, the Mpati commission of inquiry heard on Wednesday.

Testifying before the commission, board member Sandra Beswick said despite Gungubele, the finance minister and the media being in possession of Matjila’s letter dated November 8, board members were only made aware of the letter in a meeting on November 16.

“Vital information was being withheld from the board which means that compliance with our fiduciary duties was compromised. The employees were also not informed timeously and read about the letter in the media,” Beswick said.

The judicial commission is headed by retired Judge Lex Mpati and is probing issues of impropriety at the PIC.

In the letter, Matjila emphasised that this was not his resignation notice but rather an opportunity for him to provide the board with the terms for his impending resignation. One stipulation was that he submit his formal resignation letter on January 31 2019 and serve his notice period until April 2019.

Matjila’s letter said there had been a “fundamental breakdown of trust” between him and the company and said this made it “impossible for the employee/employer relationship to function in the manner required”.

Matjila had been subject to investigations questioning his integrity after allegations of corruption were made against him by anonymous whistleblower James Nogu.

Beswick said in a later meeting there were divisions among board members over whether to accept the letter of intent as an effective resignation letter.

The majority of the board members were in favour of accepting Matjila’s letter of intent as a resignation with immediate effect, reasoning that the breakdown in trust he had cited was concerning and made it impossible to work with him.

Beswick said she was part of the stable which wanted him to serve out his notice.

“My legal advice was that the letter did not constitute a letter of resignation. We were also concerned that the acceptance of his resignation could be unlabelled as unfair labour practice,” said Beswick.

After the board decided to accept his letter of intent as a resignation, Matjila informed them in the same meeting that he did not accept the decision, stating that he viewed this as being in breach of his employment contract.

On Monday, Gungubele told the commission that there was a faction in the board that habitually took Matjila’s side whenever it dealt with issues related to him.

However, Beswick said Matjila did not hold her to ransom. “We weren’t pro-Dr Matjila; we were pro-process and it was for the good of the PIC.”

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Tebogo Tshwane
Tebogo Tshwane

Tebogo Tshwane is an Adamela Trust financial journalism trainee at the Mail & Guardian. She was previously a general news intern at Eyewitness News and a current affairs show presenter at the Voice of Wits FM. Tshwane is passionate about socioeconomic issues and understanding how macroeconomic activities affect ordinary people. She holds a journalism honours degree from Wits University. 

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