Dr Daniel Majtila the Chief Financial officer of Public investment Corporation. Picture by Bheki Radebe
Johannesburg - Embattled Public Investment Corporation (PIC) boss Dan Matjila will have to put on a rearguard fight today as the board of the state pensions company meets in a crucial special meeting.

The Star understands that Matjila will have to fight off allegations of corruption in what is believed to be a smash-and-grab operation to make way for a Gupta acolyte to take over the organisation.

The PIC is understood to be the last state-owned entity (SOE) in the sights of the family, with the entity’s roughly R1.9trillion in investments - on behalf of the Government Employees’ Pension Fund - an alleged target of the Guptas.

According to internal PIC documents, seen by The Star, the allegations Matjila is expected answer to relate to a supposed flouting of policy and procedures in funding a project, linked to an alleged lover of his, worth R21million.

In an interview with The Star, the woman in question denied ever being romantically involved with Matjila or receiving money from the PIC.

Speaking to The Star on Thursday, PIC chairperson and Finance Deputy Minister Sfiso Buthelezi reiterated the stance taken by the National Treasury team - led by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba in the presence of Matjila - that the pensions fund was not about to be looted for nefarious purposes.

On the process followed in compiling the internal audit into Matjila, Buthelezi was emphatic: “The process followed (during the audit) is a process defined by the board. I am part of that collective and, as a result, I stand by that process.”

The Star also understands that there is a strong push to dismiss Matjila through this audit, where sources have revealed that it was commissioned despite the majority of the 14 board members accepting submissions made by the chief executive at a meeting earlier this month.

Buthelezi is said to have insisted on the audit, together with deputy chairperson Xolani Mkhwanazi.

But the deputy minister repudiated these contentions, saying he had no separate interests to that of the board.

“I reiterate, Sfiso Buthelezi will always be guided by the majority of that very professional board. My relationship with the chief executive, as far as I know, is a good one,” Buthelezi said.

The PIC’s “Gupta capture” was also rubbished by the family’s lawyer, Gert van der Merwe, who called these allegations “nonsense”.

“But, of course, gossip makes everything possible for people who want to believe it,” said Van der Merwe.

His comments came as efforts increased to curtail the Guptas’ operations, with a nationwide march on Wednesday by members of Cosatu to defend the PIC, among others.

On Thursday, Bianca Goodson, the former chief executive of the Gupta-linked consulting firm Trillian, released a trove of documents, which alleged corruption involving the Guptas.

These documents included her resignation letter, dated March 2016, where she wrote of the “exceptionally high risk” attendant with being associated with the Guptas and their associates as the reasons for leaving Trillian.

On Wednesday, Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini said they had written to Gigaba asking for a meeting to clarify the allegations that workers’ pension funds, particularly the Government Pension Investment Fund, would be used to bail out ailing state-owned enterprises.

Gigaba’s spokesperson, Mayihlome Tshwete, yesterday said the Treasury had made it clear that the PIC would not be funding state-owned companies.

“I don’t know if they will meet, but we are saying the story has been clarified that there is no need for such a meeting,” said Tshwete.

He said he felt it would be pointless for the two parties to meet about something that did not exist.

“Why have a meeting about the PIC investing in state-owned companies when no such investment plan exists? I’m not saying they won't meet, but this is a non-issue,” said Tshwete. “You will have to ask them (Cosatu) to clarify why they want to meet (the minister).”

Dlamini said yesterday that the labour federation had established a relationship with the finance minister and that Gigaba had addressed Cosatu’s central executive committee, where they had agreed that there would be “constant engagement on key issues”.

He said Gigaba had shown a “positive acceptance of the federation” since he had addressed Cosatu’s central executive committee, and the trade union wanted to strengthen the relationship.

Dlamini said they would take Gigaba’s word that the PIC was not going to be used to bail out underperforming state-owned enterprises, but they still wanted to have a discussion with him.

The PIC board meeting today and the march against state capture came as the Gupta empire continued to crumble.

Yesterday, Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) announced it had dumped Eskom and Transnet, two of several SOEs allegedly captured by the Guptas.

BLSA chief executive Bonang Mohale announced yesterday that Eskom and Transnet had been suspended over allegations of state capture.

Mohale was briefing business in Cape Town on a plan to grow the economy and create jobs when he said the two companies would be suspended.

The suspension of Eskom and Transnet comes after the BLSA suspended the membership of KPMG last week over its role in converting R30million in wedding expenses for the Guptas into business expenses.

KPMG also withdrew the report it wrote on the SA Revenue Service's rogue report, which led to former finance minister Pravin Gordhan being pursued by the Hawks.

Addressing business in Cape Town, Mohale said they needed to fight state capture. He said they wanted to clean their house first and that was why they were suspending Eskom and Transnet.

In a statement later, Mohale said the two state-owned entities had been facing allegations of state capture.

He said both companies had failed to get their houses in order, and this led BLSA to suspend them.

But Transnet denied the suspension, saying it did not renew its membership.

Transnet spokesperson Molatwana Likhete said the statement by Mohale was misleading.

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said they would continue to follow through on the investigations being carried out against them and then engage BLSA after the investigations had been completed.

The Star