TRADE unions are leading a pushback against concerted efforts to oust Public Investment Corporation (PIC) boss Dan Matjila.
Yesterday the country’s biggest trade union federation, Cosatu, said it was consulting with its affiliates regarding attempts to remove Matjila, as the fight for control of the crucial funding institution intensifies among political elites.
Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla told Independent Media the organisation wanted to consolidate a response to the developments at the PIC, which manages public funds and assets in excess of R1.9 trillion
“We want them to respond to what is going on as a block, meaning they have to meet and get more information from the Government Employees Pension Fund and PIC to respond on these issues,” Pamla said.
On Thursday, the Public Servants Association, the largest union in the Public Service with more than 230000 public servants, threw its weight behind Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene in what the union called political interference in the affairs of the PIC.
This comes as Nene moved to block plans by the United Democratic Movement to force him to suspend Matjila over allegations of funding some businessmen without approval of the board.
The UDM filed an urgent application in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, last month in a bid to block the PIC board from taking any actions against Matjila, as it accused it of conflict of interest.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa instead demanded that Nene take over and immediately fire Matjila, whom he accused of personally releasing funding worth R2billion to several businessmen with close ties with the PIC, without approval from the board.
In his answering affidavit filed on July 2, Nene said the PIC matter did not need the attention of the courts, as due process was under way to address the allegations.
“At the outset I must emphasise that courts ought to, in appropriate cases and circumstances, be robust in the discharge of their constitutional role and function, particularly where there are allegations of abuse of public funds and resources.
“The present case, however, does not warrant the attention of this court. The minister, the correct repository of the discretion in terms of section 6(4) of the PIC Act, is considering the documents and evidence pertaining to the allegations regarding governance issues at the PIC, including the allegations against the CEO,” Nene said.
On Thursday, PSA deputy general manager Tahir Maepa said the attacks on the PIC, including calls for the freezing of investments pending the appointment of union representatives on its board, were running the risk of raiding its integrity and independence.
“The PSA agrees with Minister Nene that no sufficient evidence has been produced to review the decision of the current board. The PIC CEO, Dr Dan Matjila, was cleared by the PIC board on all allegations that he acted improperly by awarding a loan to a company that was linked to his supposed girlfriend.
“The need to resurrect those allegations seems suspicious, linked to a need to replace Dr Matjila with someone ‘friendlier’ to the current politician at the PIC board's helm.
“The PSA is aware that these political ploys to remove Dr Matjila are a way to accommodate investments of a faction of politically-connected individuals. If Dr Matjila is guilty of anything, can that evidence be produced, instead of this mudslinging?” said Maepa.
Both Holomisa and Deputy Finance Minister Mondli Gungubele could not be reached yesterday.
Nene said he had requested a detailed report, including internal audit reports on the allegations.