South Africa - Pretoria - 16 July 2019 - Former PIC CEO Dan Matjila testifies at the PIC Commission of Inquiry. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)
JOHANNESBURG -  The former head of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), has denied allegations that during his tenure, the state-owned asset manager funded a business, which Siyabonga Nene, the son of former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, had a vested interest in and, that his father had influenced the deal.

Matjila continued his testimony on Tuesday at the Commission of Inquiry into alleged wrongdoing at the PIC,  where he gave further insight on the organisation's dealings with several companies including among others, Ascendis Health, S&S Refinery, Steinhoff and Lancaster.

Matjila said it was not the PIC's policy to fund BEE transactions outside the country, saying Nene junior and his partner Ameer Mirza's shareholding in the oil company, known as S&S Refinery, was to be vendor financed by the sponsor of the transaction and not, by the PIC. 

According to Matjila, Nene had introduced his son, Siyabonga, during his stint as chairman of the PIC and it is during that time, that he first heard about S&S Refinery.

He added that Nene later requested him to coach his son on business and investment matters.

"I accepted, as this practice was very common in the private sector," he said, adding he had also advised that Nene junior and Mirza, seek professional advice to assist them in putting together an Investment Information Memorandum. He further highlighted that he had aided them in resolving business issues  with cement company Afrisam, which supplied clinker for their cement blender company.

Asked by the Commission if he was not concerned by a possible conflict of interest in assisting Nene junior, simply because he was the PIC's chairman, Matjila replied: "No, I saw it as knowledge sharing, something that I was passionate about it."

Evidence leader, Advocate Jannie Lubbe, quizzed Matjila on the formation of the company Zaid International Trade, headed by Mirza, asking if it was above board that the two business partners had been advised to open up a bank account and, for a facilitation fee to be paid by the PIC? Matjila said he wasn't aware of this.

He said an investigation into the deal had been conducted by the Public Protector's office and feedback from the Public Protector had not yet been received.  

Lubbe also asked Matjila if his son had worked for Sekunjalo Investments, owned by Dr Iqbal Survé, based on information that he had received.  A visibly annoyed Matjila insisted that his son had never worked for the company.

Matjila’s testimony also poured cold water on suggestions that the "CEO of the PIC had invested in a delipidated oil refinery in Mozambique," saying, poor governance, exacerbated by the collapse of the metical against the US Dollar, had caused hardship  for the investment, as the cost of raw materials had doubled in a short space of time, resulting in the refinery’s inability to purchase sufficient stock.

Matjila is also expected to speak on transactions involving  Independent Media Group and Sagarmatha, Ayo Technology Solutions, VBS Mutual Bank, Daybreak Farms, Ecobank and Transnational Incorporated.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE