Ex-PIC chief Dan Matjila faced with ‘unmerited’ scrutiny

Former PIC CEO Dr Dan Matjila has lodged a court application for a review of the findings against him made by the PIC Commission of inquiry. Photo: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Former PIC CEO Dr Dan Matjila has lodged a court application for a review of the findings against him made by the PIC Commission of inquiry. Photo: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Nov 12, 2020


CAPE TOWN – Dr Dan Matjila, the former chief executive of the Public Investment Corporation’s (PIC), life, has been heavily impacted as a direct result of the remarks, conclusions, findings and/or recommendations contained in the PIC Commission of Inquiry Report, handed down earlier this year.

This is according to Matjila’s lawyers who said, in response to questions from Independent Media, that the impact of the report had taken a significant toll on his personal life and well-being.

“He is facing unwarranted and unmerited scrutiny in the public and professional domain including from the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA).

“Our client has been unable to return to the work for which is qualified and has not been able to pursue or secure opportunities in his chosen field. His reputation has been unfairly prejudiced,” said Boqwana Burns Attorneys.

Matjila has lodged a court application for a review of the findings of the PIC Commission led by Justice Lex Mpati, which made findings that characterised him as dishonest, evasive, obstructive and, as not being a fit and proper person, as understood in various financial sector regulations.

His lawyers said recommendations of this nature were prejudicial to Matjila in both a professional and personal context.

The lawyers said the review application, filed in the North Gauteng High Court, sought to remove, expunge and/or delete those remarks, conclusions, findings and/or recommendations from the Commission’s report.

“There is absolutely no basis for these conclusions and at worst, none of these were put to the client for his comments. He was called to assist the Commission, which he did voluntarily at his own costs, and for him to be ambushed in the report is patently unfair.

“At the outset, we must make it clear that our client has always been, and remains, supportive of the processes to improve the efficiencies of the PIC. It was in this spirit that our client was called to appear and assist the Commission which he did with full co-operation,” said the lawyers.

“For the sake of clarity, our client states that: ‘The recommendations and findings in the report, which are aimed at improving governance at the PIC to achieve the restructuring and repurposing of the PIC to better meet client mandates, play a role in growing an inclusive economy and achieving sustainability, must remain in the report and should be implemented’.”

The PIC Commission Report, released in March, makes some rather harsh remarks against Matjila with regard to processes leading to investment decisions at the asset manager.

Boqwana Burns said there was no need to defend those transactions as the facts spoke for themselves. “The validity, compliance, and performance of the transactions in question are dealt with extensively in our client’s statement to the Commission.”

The PIC is Africa’s largest asset manager that manages assets for clients, including the Government Employees Pensions Fund (GEPF), and is regulated by FSCA in the provision of asset management services.

The sole shareholder of the PIC is the State, represented by the Minister of Finance.

In his more than 350-page court document Matjila said the PIC was one of very few state-owned entities (SOEs) that had not had to request a government bailout but instead had actually paid dividends to the state and received clean unqualified audits from the Auditor General year after year.

The asset manager has been practically the only SOE to have achieved any significant growth over the last 15 years, growing from a mere R377 billion to more than R2 trillion – much of which, was under Matjila’s own watch.

“It has also delivered good returns to its clients, thus satisfying its mandate requirements. Throughout the 15 years, it has never breached its licencing requirements as a financial service provider. It has won numerous local and international recognition for its sterling performance,” he said.

Matjila said, whereas a court of law was bound by rules of evidence and pleadings, a commission was not so bound. “It may inform itself of facts in any way it deems appropriate, including by hearsay evidence, newspaper reports or representations or submissions without sworn evidence. Commissions are designed to allow an investigation which goes beyond what might be permitted in a Court of law.”

He said, however, a commission of inquiry must still operate within the framework of the principles of legality. The flexibility of its rules does not mean that it can reach conclusions, which are not justified by the evidence before it.

Boqwana Burns said Matjila understood the implications of various investigations that affected so-called black professionals negatively and others were justified. “In [Matjila’s] case, he resisted any form of undue influence that could compromise the PIC and the attacks against him were exactly as a result of the professional stance he took on issues.”

The lawyers said in light of everything, it became apparent to their client that in order to close this chapter it would be necessary to seek to review the Commission’s remarks, conclusions, findings and/or recommendations.