JOHANNESBURG – Matshepo More, the suspended acting chief executive at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), might have missed a chance to tell her side of the story at the PIC Commission of Inquiry with regard to allegations made by whistle-blower James Nogu.
The question that comes to mind is: Did evidence leader Advocate Jannie Lubbe consider this to be of very little relevance? Or was he a bit ruffled by the surprise revelation by More that he (Lubbe) had called her to a private meeting to give her “fatherly advice”? In her testimony, More told the PIC Commission of Inquiry that the evidence leader called her to a private meeting to give her fatherly advice that she should approach the Finance Minister and request to be put on special leave.
Whatever the reason, the allegations by Nogu against More are too serious to go untested by the Judge Lex Mpati Commission as they speak directly to operations at the PIC and the very first entry in the commission's terms of reference.
The commission must inquire into, make findings, report on and make recommendations on “whether any alleged impropriety regarding investment decisions by the PIC in media reports in 2017 and 2018 contravened any legislation, PIC policy or contractual obligations and resulted in any undue benefit for any PIC director, employee or any associate or family member of any PIC director or employee at the time.”
Nogu alleges that More is part of a triad, including the then non-executive director Sibusisiwe Zulu, which aims to protect her from any investigations that could implicate her on condition that she approves a few of Zulu's and her boyfriend Lawrence Mulaudzi’s transactions.
“Since the appointment of the acting chief executive, it has become common knowledge in the transaction market that if you want any deal to be considered by the PIC you need to seek a meeting with Zulu's boyfriend, who will then talk to both More and (the former deputy finance minister and PIC chairperson) Mondli Gungubele to get the go-ahead.
“If you agree to their terms of sharing 50 percent of the transactional fees and 40 percent shares in the proposed transaction which will be distributed to Mondli, More and Zulu through selected proxies, then your deal will be approved with no hassles,” claims Nogu.
Interestingly, this subject was raised during Gungubele’s appearance before the commission, where he vehemently denied taking part in this corrupt practice. Lubbe put it to the commission that Gungubele was implicated in the Nogu emails: “Can you deal with that now, please, chair?”
Gungubele responded: “You know when we became aware of Nogu’s email, I convened a special board meeting in order to allow the board to deliberate on the way forward. So, that this matter (does) not linger This was also after one of the directors implicated in that email had sent the board a request that allegations against her be independently investigated.”
More never got to tell her side on this allegation. Instead, she was asked who James Nogu was. “You know, like have you found out? You are on the board and you are a senior person there. What is your speculation? What is your thinking? Or who are the James Nogus, because there could be more than one,” asked assistant commissioner Emmanuel Lediga.
More responded: “I had hoped the commission would come out with that answer. My speculation is maybe it is two different people I have tried not to speculate on who it is because it will create a culture of distrust I don’t know who James Nogu is.”
Although this clearly shows that Nogu has not been forgotten, the commission seems to have been sidetracked by its relentless focus on just a few companies on Lubbe’s list as revealed in a letter by More to the PIC board and staff.
The commission is quickly running out of time to test these allegations, which even Zulu said required an independent investigation. Zulu is still expected to appear before the commission and it remains to be seen if these allegations will thoroughly be tested.