Carol Paton Writer at Large
ANC MP Mondli Gungubele. Picture: ANTONIO MUCHAVE/SOWETAN.
ANC MP Mondli Gungubele. Picture: ANTONIO MUCHAVE/SOWETAN.

The future of Public Investment Corporation (PIC) CEO Dan Matjila came under scrutiny again on Friday, when the board held a lengthy meeting at which it was put under pressure to explain how and why it had cleared him of allegations of wrongdoing in September.

The PIC, which manages almost R2-trillion in government pension and other funds, is the biggest asset manager in the economy and SA’s most influential investor.

It has been subject to some instability over the past year, with several attempts to oust Matjila and several suspensions and dismissals of staff.

The pressure came from the new chairman of the PIC, Deputy Finance Minister Mondli Gungubele, who has been in the post only a few months.

Matjila was in 2017 accused by an anonymous whistle-blower of allocating funds for corporate social responsibility to a project in which an alleged "girlfriend" was associated. He was also accused of asking a company the PIC had recently funded to help settle the woman’s debts.

Matjila has denied all the accusations and provided a response to the board of the PIC at the time. The board then conducted a cursory verification exercise of his report and cleared him of all wrongdoing.

It later emerged that the investigation had not been conclusive. In particular, although it established from Matjila that he had requested a recipient of PIC funding to assist the woman, it was not known if he had asked the company to settle her debts.

Earlier in June, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa filed papers in the High Court in Pretoria asking Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene to suspend Matjila while a thorough investigation was done. In his affidavit, Holomisa also alleged that the minutes of the meeting at which Matjila was cleared had been doctored.

Gungubele said on Sunday that he had asked the board to re-examine its conduct in the incident and report back to him in the next 10 days.

Nene must file an answering affidavit to Holomisa’s application by mid-July.

"There are decisions the board has taken [in the past], which I don’t want to speak about," Gungubele said.

"It has now decided that it will attend to the whole process again and report back to me.

"In the meantime, the decisions that they have taken still stand," Gungubele said.