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

JOHANNESBURG – Former Public Investment Corporation (PIC) chief executive, Dr Dan Matjila, has told the Mpati Commission of Inquiry that he bears no grudges against former Deputy Finance Minister and PIC chairman, Mondli Gungubele or, United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader, Bantu Holomisa. 

Matjila was responding to questions regarding tensions that had been visible between him and the two. 

The commission said it appeared that there was no love lost between Gungubele and Matjila and asked what triggered this, to which, Matjila replied: "I have no idea... I had not met Gungubele in my life until the PIC. I had no reason to suspect anything. I just treated him like any other chairperson and Deputy Finance Minister. I have no idea what he had against me." 

The commission also questioned Matjila on his encounters with UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, but he highlighted that he only knew him as a political party leader and for his interests in the PIC, which he says intrigued and equally concerned him.

Matjila said he wanted to Invite Holomisa to explain the operations of the PIC, as a means of curbing scathing media reports, but this never materialised.  

He also said when Gungubele assumed the chairman position, media attention on the PIC was at its highest. 

At a meeting held at Gungubele’s office at Treasury in June last year, Matjila said he sought to outline the PIC's strategic issues, address attacks on the PIC, discuss the MST transaction, plus  propose that he call for an urgent board meeting and arrange a proper induction for all members but, these requests were ignored.  

"To my surprise, he was not interested in these issues and wanted me to take him through the PIC investment strategy. I strongly suspected that he was being briefed by some other parties and indeed, the evidence by Ms Bongani Mathebula (the Company Secretary), bears out this suspicion."

Mathebula at the time, was allegedly on suspension for leaking confidential information often discussed by the board but, allegations on her doing this were not proved. 

Matjila said while it took Gungubele six months after he was appointed in the office to finally conduct an induction, the events that unfolded were" an example of how governance is failing at the PIC," adding,  the current paralysis at the asset manager has significant implications for the economy. 

Matjila said Gungubele had taken a stance that the board had erred in exonerating him in September 2017 and that his views were also borne out by his decision not to oppose the court application by UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, which he launched in June 2018 to have him (Matjila) suspended as the chief exceutive. 

He said Holomisa wanted the Gauteng High Court at the time, to among other things, order that the PIC was conflicted when making the decision to absolve him (Matjila) of any wrongdoing and direct the Minister to suspend him.

Matjila also shed light on the fact that bonus payments were not paid on time, resulting in employees being resentful, further saying that responses on investigations conducted by the office of the Public Protector were delayed and deadlines missed and, that generally, "the level of administration was appalling when it came to PIC affairs."

He said that a meeting with Gungubele’s advisor, Teboho 'Bobo' Mokoena, had further highlighted some of his concerns on certain matters but, was told not to worry but, instead, he should focus his attention on building a better relationship with Gungubele. 

At the same meeting, Matjila revealed that Mokoena had asked him to assist a poor family by buying books worth R5 million, as part of the CSI, saying he had not even informed who this family was. 

Gungubele and his fellow board members resigned in February this year with it later emerging that the former chairman, had allegedly misled the commission about what transpired during his tenure. He has since denied this.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE