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

Former Public Investment Corporation (PIC) CEO, Dr. Dan Matjila, on Thursday, said contrary to media reports and despite the trillions of rands, it manages - making it a tempting piggy bank for many - the PIC had not been used as a "free for all” under his tenure.   

"I know we talked about politicians approaching you but, has or was it, a piggy bank?" retired Judge Lex Mpati asked Matjila, who answered that this was not the case, as stringent processes were followed at the asset manager. 

The Commission of Inquiry into alleged impropriety at the PIC was hearing Matjila's response to the Inquiry's terms of reference.

The former executive said the PIC was in good shape and had been given a clean bill of health while he was at the helm and before he left.

Asked by Commissioner Gill Marcus if the PIC had fulfilled its mandate, Matjila replied that over the years they had outperformed the benchmarks set by their clients.

Matjila also emphasised that contrary to false claims about how investments were handled at the PIC, neither he nor any single person at the organisation, was, or is, able to make an investment decision on their own and, that all investments were carefully scrutinised. 

In respect to conflicts of interest that may have occurred at the PIC, Matjila said those presiding over the investment had to be honest enough to recuse themselves. 

"This, I believe, was happening at the PIC. Those participating must declare their interests and conflict."

Marcus asked if there had been a situation in which, someone had declared their interests but was later found wanting.  Matjila said he couldn't recall any such instance, as he had never conducted an in-depth analysis of this.

Earlier in the week, Matjila, who had also served as a chief investment officer over the 15 years he was at the PIC, spoke of how several attempts had been made to capture the organisation and how businessmen and politicians sought to influence operations and have their investments approved. 

He spoke of how ministers wanted certain people appointed onto the PIC board without proper processes being followed, and how former ANC treasurer-general, Zweli Mkhize, wanted the PIC to fund the African National Congress’s (ANC) January 8 event in 2016 but, Mkhize has since denied this.

"I wish to categorically state that at no point did I, or the Treasurer General's office, request funding from any state owned entity, including the PIC. It is publicly known that the ANC, through the Progressive Business

Forum (PBF), in an ongoing process, facilitates engagements between the business community and political leaders, Mkhize said in a statement adding while he has no recollection sending Matjila a message, he may have been sent an invitation to attend on one of the PBF's breakfast or dinner fundraising events. 

His testimony continues.