Matjila con­fi­dent to weather charges

Cape Times - - FRONT PAGE - Ka­belo Khu­malo

UN­DER FIRE Pub­lic In­vest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (PIC) chief ex­ec­u­tive Dan Matjila yes­ter­day said that he was con­fi­dent that he would emerge un­scathed from to­day’s spe­cial meet­ing meant to get rid of him amidst nepo­tism al­le­ga­tions lev­elled against him.

Matjila said the al­le­ga­tions that he had chan­nelled an R21 mil­lion deal to an al­leged girl­friend lacked merit and he was de­ter­mined to con­tinue his ten­ure at the helm of one of the largest in­vest­ment man­agers in Africa.

“It is quite dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand why th­ese al­le­ga­tions are emerg­ing now. I had al­ready pro­vided a full re­sponse that laid my case that the al­le­ga­tions against me are just lies. I un­der­took to pro­vide solid proof that is ir­refutable, but the spe­cial meet­ing was called any­way,” Matjila said.

The PIC is owned by the gov­ern­ment, mainly through the Gov­ern­ment Em­ploy­ees Pen­sion Fund, who owns 88.2 per­cent of the PIC and is among fif­teen en­ti­ties that re­port to the Min­istry of Fi­nance through gov­er­nance ar­range­ments that give them au­ton­omy, but also en­able them to align their strate­gies with gov­ern­ment pol­icy.

Matjila joined the PIC in 2003 as its chief in­vest­ment of­fi­cer. He be­gan his five-year ten­ure as chief ex­ec­u­tive in 2014. For­mer Fi­nance Min­is­ter Nh­lanhla Nene de­scribed him as strate­gic thinker, with ex­ten­sive knowl­edge

and ex­pe­ri­ence in as­set man­age­ment and in­vest­ment.

Deputy fi­nance min­is­ter Si­fiso Buthelezi, who is the chair­per­son of the PIC, yes­ter­day dis­missed the al­le­ga­tions that guns were out for Matjila as un­founded and that there were pre­con­ceived plans to re­move Matjila.

“The Deputy Min­is­ter would like to put it on record that th­ese al­le­ga­tions are un­founded, base­less and are caus­ing un­nec­es­sary panic over an in­ter­nal mat­ter at the PIC. The PIC board has in­deed called for a meet­ing on Fri­day with the chief ex­ec­u­tive, but this is to dis­cuss and get clar­i­fi­ca­tion

from him on in­ter­nal mat­ters,” the Trea­sury said.

Busi­ness Re­port’s sis­ter news­pa­per, The Star, re­ported yes­ter­day that moves to get rid of Matjila were trig­gered by the de­sire of the in­fa­mous Gupta fam­ily to cap­ture the op­er­a­tions of the fund man­ager that has nearly R2 tril­lion of as­sets un­der its man­age­ment. The Star said the Gup­tas wanted em­bat­tled for­mer Eskom chief ex­ec­u­tive Brian Molefe to be in­stalled at the helm of the PIC. Molefe was at the helm of the PIC from 2003 to 2010.

Ian Cruick­shanks, the chief econ­o­mist at the South African In­sti­tute of Race Re­la­tions, said in­de­pen­dence of the PIC must be the fore­most con­sid­er­a­tion.

“It is crit­i­cally im­por­tant that the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the PIC should be free of any out­side in­flu­ence,” Cruick­shanks said.

In a move eerily sim­i­lar to events that led up to a ma­jor cab­i­net reshuf­fle ear­lier this year that claimed the heads of for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han and his deputy Mce­bisi Jonas, Matjila was also forced to cut short his busi­ness trip to the US to come to an­swer to the al­le­ga­tions at the spe­cial meet­ing that was ini­tially set down as an or­di­nary meet­ing.

Buthelezi, how­ever, did not ex­plain what was so ur­gent about to­day’s meet­ing that de­manded Matjila to cut short his busi­ness trip to the US.

Matjila said he was taken aback that the meet­ing was al­tered into a spe­cial meet­ing that needed him to im­me­di­ately head back home.

“When I left on Fri­day I was un­der the im­pres­sion that to­day’s meet­ing was go­ing to be a sub-com­mit­tee meet­ing of the board. I got to know via e-mail while in the US that this meet­ing has been changed into a spe­cial board meet­ing.

“When I was made aware that the meet­ing was changed to be that of a spe­cial meet­ing I had to aban­don my plans and re­turn to the coun­try so I that am present at this meet­ing. I am con­fi­dent in the qual­ity of my work and con­fi­dent that the board will agree that the al­le­ga­tions against me are with­out merit.”

PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Daniel Matjila, chief in­vest­ment of­fi­cer of Pub­lic In­vest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion. Matjila says he was taken aback that to­day’s meet­ing was al­tered into a spe­cial meet­ing that needed him to im­me­di­ately head back home from the US.

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