The EFF has accused ANC politicians of using the PIC to enrich themselves or settle political and personal vendettas. Picture: Nqobile Mbonambi/African News Agency/ANA.

Johannesburg - The EFF has accused ANC politicians of using the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) to enrich themselves or settle political and personal vendettas.

Spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the PIC’s decision-making processes allowed the governing party’s leaders with proximity to the R2 trillion state asset manager to unduly benefit from its investments or use it to settle scores.

This comes after businessman Dr Iqbal Survé said this week that Deputy Finance Minister Mondli Gungubele, who is also PIC chairman, had told ANC national executive committee (NEC) members at a breakfast meeting last year that he would crush his businesses.

Under cross-examination at the Mpati commission of inquiry on Tuesday, Survé accused Gungubele of having an agenda against his Sekunjalo Group of companies - including Independent Media, AYO Technology Solutions and the African Equity Empowerment Investments.

President Cyril Ramaphosa set up the inquiry last year to probe allegations of impropriety at the PIC.

Survé said his firms were victims of politically and racially motivated smear campaigns aimed at collapsing them and that those behind the campaign used state regulatory bodies, like the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC), to settle scores.

Gungubele has rejected Survé’s accusations, saying the businessman “owes South Africans clarity” and “has a duty to explain the truth”.

Ndlozi shared Survé’s sentiments on Friday: “All ANC politicians always use whatever power they have to settle politics or personal vendettas. None of them ever take the oath of office seriously. Each time they have to choose between an oath of office and the personal interest, their personal interest triumphs.”

Ndlozi said the EFF had long noted that the PIC’s investment patterns essentially favoured white-owned and controlled companies at the expense of firms started, run and benefiting black people.

“This is despite the reality that government workers, to whom the pension fund belongs, are actually majority black,” he said.

Alf Lees, a DA MP, said while his party did not agree with the editorial decisions of some of the Independent titles, it did not support the use of political power to target companies without following regulatory channels or letting the law take its course. He said his party would be disappointed with Gungubele if the allegations made by Survé against the deputy minister turned out to be true.

“We do not want to see Independent go down or go out of business simply because we disagree with the editorials of some of their newspapers. There are a lot of people whose jobs depend on it, and it is an integral part of our economy.”

Lees said the PIC’s investment in Independent Media is different from the R4.3 billion it spent on a 29% stake in AYO in December 2017.

“The point of contention with Ayo is that its PIC investment may not have been done in terms of due diligence. However, it is not for us to determine from the side lines, but if we talk about the PIC expecting a return on investment, then that investment needs to be safe-guarded,” Lees said.

“If Gungubele is trying to safe-guard that investment then he is doing his job. The commission of inquiry is doing a good job in its work and it is highlighting issues that we expected. We have been at the forefront of doing oversight at the PIC. We have now managed for the first time to get the PIC report on unlisted investments. Much of what we were saying seems to have substance.”

Survé told commission chairperson Judge Lex Mpati and his assistants Gill Marcus and Emmanuel Lediga that an unnamed minister had called him at 10pm three months ago and threatened to deal with Independent Media if he did not intervene and stop the publication of a negative story about the politician.

On Friday, Gungubele denied Surve’s allegations he had vowed to “crush” Sekunjalo and its subsidiaries.

“He owes South Africans the clarity of what he says. He has a duty to explain the truth. I don’t think I get what he is talking about and he owes South Africans more information. He must tell the world. He owes South Africans the facts of what he is saying,” said Gungubele.

However, he ruled out the possibility of returning to the Mpati commission to respond to or clarify Survé’s allegations, saying it was up to the commission to establish the facts.

ANC spokesperson Dakota Legoete and his PIC counterpart Sekgoela Sekgoela could not be reached for comment. They did not respond to written questions, calls and SMSs sent on Friday and Saturday.

Sunday Tribune