Mondli Gungubele
CAPE TOWN - Deputy Finance Minister Mondli Gungubele earlier this week told former president of the Supreme Court of Appeals Lex Mpati - with a straight face - that Finance Minister Tito Mboweni never forced the PIC board to resign.

However, new details have emerged that the total opposite was true and Gungubele, who was board chairperson, misled the PIC Commission of Inquiry.

The conflicting testimonies heard between Monday and yesterday could potentially mean that Gungubele lied under oath and might face the wrath of Parliament’s joint committee on ethics and members’ interests.

In her testimony on Tuesday, PIC board member Dudu Hlatshwayo said Gungubele received a call from Mboweni, who told them to resign immediately or face being fired on Monday.

What has emerged is that Gungubele misrepresented the facts when he claimed that the board was not fired and not put under pressure to leave.

Attempts to reach Gungubele were unsuccessful. However, he commented through evidence leader Jannie Lubbe at the commission yesterday.

Lubbe told the commission that Gungubele informed him on Tuesday evening that Hlatshwayo’s testimony was true in that the whole board was forced to resign by Mboweni.

A top corporate legal advisor and attorney said as far as the new revelations were concerned, the PIC Commission would have to gather evidence and determine if there was any wrongdoing on Gungubele’s part.

He held the view that the inquiry now had to assess if Gungubele was a credible witness.

“The question is, can it be proven that he lied under oath or misled the PIC inquiry? If so, then he could be charged with committing perjury,” said Moosa. Through Lubbe, Gungubele confessed that Hlatshwayo’s version of events were indeed true, further nullifying the testimony he gave on Monday.

It is unclear whether a complaint has been lodged with Parliament’s joint committee on ethics and members’ interests. However, Independent Media understands that a formal complaint has yet to be made.

Chris Malikane, an associate professor of economics at Wits University and former adviser to former finance minister Malusi Gigaba, said: “The PIC is highly contested by virtue of its liquidity; it has public sector workers pumping cash into the organisation on a monthly basis. The liabilities of the PIC are not that pressing and it is highly solvent with a lot of cash flow, which makes it subject to massive political interference. This makes professionals in the PIC subject to contestation by political forces as we have seen in Hlatshwayo’s testimony.”

Malikane said when ministers take over public office, they take an oath to uphold their institutions with honesty and integrity.

“You can’t lie to a commission of inquiry. It’s binding. It’s viewed in a serious light and it is a big thing for a leader to misrepresent the facts,” he said.

- BUSINESS REPORT