Johannesburg - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s comments that the Public Investment Corporation - the country’s biggest investor in the economy - should be defended have angered Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba.
This emerged as Gigaba demanded that embattled PIC boss Dr Dan Matjila and the board reveal the entity’s investments and the people it has funded, in what is believed to be a fresh bid to oust Matjila.
The demand is contained in an explosive letter seen by The Star that Gigaba sent this week to Deputy Finance Minister Sfiso Buthelezi, who is also the PIC’s chairperson.
The minister’s letter comes after Matjila survived attempts to remove him from the helm last month and replace him with a Gupta-family appointee, a move seen as a smash-and-grab operation by the family.
Matjila was initially accused of funding a project linked to an alleged lover for an amount of R21 million.
It is understood that Buthelezi and Xolani Mkhwanazi - the PIC’s deputy chairperson - pushed for an internal audit to be conducted despite the majority of the board clearing Matjila of the allegations.
The internal audit cleared Matjila of wrongdoing, but Gigaba has now demanded that the board appoint a reputable independent forensic company to audit “outstanding matters not done by the internal audit, as they (the internal auditors) do not have the capacity to audit additional matters, as per my request”.
In the wake of a big march by Cosatu to block attempts to hijack the PIC and Ramaphosa’s comments that the entity should be protected against state capture, Gigaba now wants the details of all the PIC transactions - both listed and unlisted investments - including:
The amounts of money spent on transactions.
The transactional advisers and/or sponsors.
The amounts paid by the PIC to those transactional advisers or sponsors.
All the BEE consortiums listed in those transactions: “This must specifically state each individual or legal entity that has participated in that consortium.”
In case of a legal entity, all the directors and shareholders of the entity must be disclosed.
“I also request that you furnish me with a list of transactions that you have concluded with parties that are classified as PIPs (Prominent Influential Persons),” Gigaba wrote.
“I further request that the PIC discloses the details of individuals or companies who have been funded by the PIC or participated in a PIC transaction more than once in the past three years.
“This should also reflect the amount of these transactions,” he said.
Gigaba, sources said, wants to know who Matjila has benefited to obtain a so-called smoking gun to pin on the chief executive through investments and transactions the PIC entered into over the past three years.
However, National Treasury spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete rubbished the contention that the minister’s letter sought to target Matjila, saying Gigaba had sought to bring the PIC saga to its finality.
“It (the letter) is not interference. When you are accused of wrongdoing, it is best to open yourself up and be transparent,” Tshwete said, adding that people had nothing to fear from the probes if there was nothing to hide.
“The board must share how deals are entered into. It must figure out a modus operandi for transparency - whether it is on a bi-annual basis, for example,” Tshwete pointed out.
But a source close to the proceedings said the letter was also aimed at responding to Ramaphosa’s “annoying” statements last week.
Ramaphosa told a gathering of the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) that the PIC was being viewed with “dangerous eyes”.
“You (Sadtu) as a union must act in defence of other institutions in the country. Some of those institutions are being looked at from certain points of view. Some of them are being weakened”
The source said these sentiments had infuriated Gigaba, and the minister believed Ramaphosa was scoring political points ahead of the ANC’s December elective conference.
“As the leader of government business, the deputy president could’ve called (Gigaba) to a meeting if he had concerns,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“People are trying to distract the minister and connect him to the PIC when he is not connected. The minister was very annoyed at the comments made by the deputy president last week,” the source added.
Buthelezi said on Wednesday that he was out of the country and referred all questions to Mkhwanazi.