Former PIC CEO Dan Matjila testifies at the PIC Commission of Enquity. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

PRETORIA - Former chief executive of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), Dr Daniel Matjila, told the Mpati Inquiry on Monday that financial prudence with people's money is a skill that he mastered very early on in his career. 

Matjila began his testimony at the PIC commission of inquiry by detailing his long and illustrious career, both in academia and in the private sector finance industry.

Before getting to the crux of his testimony, Matjila took the commission through his career starting with an apprenticeship paying R65.70 a week as a fitter-turner at Sea Electrical in 1980 in a bid to raise funding for his university education after completing matric.

"It was during this time that I learnt an important lesson about being prudent with money. This is something that has stayed with me throughout my life, and I am equally prudent with other people's money as I am with my own money," Matjila said.

"Within a year I had saved enough to be able to enroll for my pre-engineering course at the University of Fort Hare in 1982."

Matjila than detailed his academic qualifications such as a BSc degree in physics and applied mathematics, MSc in applied mathematics, PhD in mathematical approximation while working as a lecturer at the University of the North. 

He said he left academia for the private sector in 1996 and joined Anglo American as a trainee in quantitative asset management.

This is where he was involved in the development of statistical and econometric models and forecast movements or direction of certain key indices such as the price ratio of the All Share Index. 

Matjila said during his time at Anglo he developed good business relationships with executives at local and international investment banks, which was crucial to put him in good stead during his time at the PIC. 

Matjila's testimony before the inquiry, led by retired Judge Lex Mpati, is largely to defend himself from accusations leveled against him while he was at the helm of Africa's biggest fund manager.

Several witnesses have implicated Matjila as having played a central role in approving questionable investment deals by the PIC, which manages about R2.2 trillion of government employees pension funds. 

When he resigned in November 2018, Matjila was the subject of an internal investigation into allegations that business and kickbacks were inappropriately ring-fenced around some of his associates.

The inquiry, which is expected to wrap up this month, has heard evidence from about 70 witnesses, some of whom are former and current PIC directors. The inquiry continues.

- African News Agency (ANA)