Carol Paton Writer at Large
Under fire: Bantu Holomisa, leader of the UDM, is accused of not giving Lebashe and Harith an opportunity to defend themselves before he sent his letter with fresh allegations to President Cyril Ramaphosa demanding a probe into the PIC. Picture: LULAMILE FENI/DAILY DISPATCH
Under fire: Bantu Holomisa, leader of the UDM, is accused of not giving Lebashe and Harith an opportunity to defend themselves before he sent his letter with fresh allegations to President Cyril Ramaphosa demanding a probe into the PIC. Picture: LULAMILE FENI/DAILY DISPATCH

Several political and trade union groups launched bids on Thursday to influence the investigation into the affairs of the Public Investment Corporation that Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene announced on Wednesday.

Nene announced two inquiries: an independent inquiry into governance at the PIC for which he will choose the head and set the terms of reference, and a forensic inquiry into several directors including CEO Dan Matjila, that will be run by the fund manager’s board.

The PIC manages nearly R2-trillion in government pension and other funds.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, who has an active court application to force Nene to hold an investigation and suspend Matjila, aims to influence the terms of reference of the inquiry. Holomisa has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa urging that the PIC’s relationship with Harith General Partners, an investment company it established in 2006, be included.

Harith is run by a former PIC employee, Tshepo Mahloele.

Holomisa — who has been gagged by a court from making defamatory statements about Mahloele, his investment vehicle Lebashe and his business partner, former ANC politician Jabu Moleketi — alleges numerous conflicts of interest in the dealings of Mahloele.

Holomisa wants the inquiry’s terms of reference to include the establishment of Harith and the investments made by the Government Employees Pension Fund into a Harith vehicle, the Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund.

Trade union Solidarity also entered the fray on Thursday, announcing that it had launched a court application to compel the PIC to provide it with information on various transactions. These included the PIC’s investment in Independent Newspapers, VBS Mutual Bank and oil and gas company Camac.

Cosatu and the DA said it was imperative that the two amendment bills before Parliament — one introduced by the DA, and the other by Parliament’s finance committee — must be processed.

While there are some differences between the bills, both would compel the PIC to disclose details of all its unlisted investments annually.

Cosatu also hinted that it was inappropriate that Nene, as a former chairman of the PIC when he served as deputy finance minister from 2008 to 2014, should appoint the investigation but stopped short of saying that he should not do so.

“We still find it interesting that Minister Nhlanhla Nene is talking about investigating [the] PIC, when he is also a former chairperson of the same institution,” Cosatu said.

patonc@businesslive.co.za