Deputy Finance Minister Mondli Gungubele. Photo: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)
CAPE TOWN – As the Commission of Inquiry into alleged improprieties at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) resumes we expect more explosive testimonies as more witnesses appear before the commission to give their versions of the truth, largely based on emails sent by whistle-blower James Nogu/Noko.

Over the past week, we have heard how the asset manager is alleged to have treated its employees unequally when it came to remuneration. Simphiwe Mayisela, the former senior manager of information security told the commission that he had accessed a spreadsheet document containing recent salary adjustment figures for all PIC employees after being granted super admin access by the executive head of IT, Vuyokazi Menye.

“This spreadsheet confirmed the unfair criteria used to award salary increases.

"For instance, Brian Mavuka, the general manager: finance, whose relationship with the chief financial officer, Matshepo More, dates back to their days at Deloitte, was awarded a gross salary increase of almost R1million (R957975) without any sound justification for such an obscene amount of adjustment,” said Mayisela.

We also heard conflicting testimony about whether the board’s en masse resignation was solely a board decision as stated by the PIC chairperson, deputy finance minister Mondli Gungubele, or if it was forced to resign as stated by other witnesses, namely former directors Dudu Hlatshwayo and Sandra Beswick.

These submissions largely suggest that the deputy minister lied under oath, which is a constitutional offence. Remember how former Minister Malusi Gigaba was labelled a constitutional delinquent after he was found to have lied under oath.

These claims against Gungubele led to unions as well as industry experts calling for him to be suspended or dismissed.

Chris Harmse, the chief economist at Rebalance Fund Managers, said under normal circumstances, Gungubele should have been placed on suspension or dismissed as the deputy due to the break in trust and confidence in his portfolio as the chairperson of the board at the PIC.

The Public Servants Association (PSA) general manager, Ivan Fredericks, said immediate steps needed to be taken to discipline Gungubele.

“He can clearly not be trusted in his position and he has furthermore contributed to the current state of disarray of the PIC.

"This is again underlining the PSA’s stance that the chairperson of the PIC should not be appointed for political reasons to support personal gain, but the appointment should be based on integrity and expertise.”

Of note is that Gungubele is placed slap bang in the centre of a corruption triad, along with acting chief executive Matshepo More and director Sibusisiwe Zulu, by the Noko emails. These emails are the reason why Finance Minister Tito Mboweni forced the board to resign.

Noko accused the three of being responsible for handing over R6billion to Zulu’s live-in lover Lawrence Mlaudzi.

Claims made by Noko are also to the effect that if one needs a transaction to be approved by the PIC one would be told to talk to Mlaudzi, who is not part of the PIC. Mlaudzi would then negotiate terms, such as shareholding and kickbacks, according to Noko.

We have heard quite a lot about erstwhile chief executive Dr Dan Matjila’s alleged facilitation of a R300000 funding for one Pretty Louw and this has been cleared by the Budlender Report. However, we are talking about R6bn among other transactions, albeit not explicitly outlined by Noko and somehow the focus is on the former chief executive.

While the deputy minister's dismissal may seem unlikely considering that the national elections are just around the corner, the claims made by Noko around how Mlaudzi’s R6bn deal was made are pertinent.

It is in the public’s interest to find out the truth of whether Mlaudzi is colluding with PIC chairperson Gungubele, acting chief executive More and director Zulu.

This is the crux of Noko’s latest claims, which suggest a modus operandi that smacks of corruption amounting to the misappropriation of billions of government pensioners’ funds.

Love or hate our whistle-blower James Nogu/Noko, it is his whistle-blowing that opened up this can of worms at the state-owned asset manager with R2.083 trillion of assets under management.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE