Daniel Matjila. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Daniel Matjila. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Former Public Investment Corporation (PIC) CEO Dan Matjila allowed political parties and trade unions to interfere with the PIC’s investment decisions, the state-owned asset manager’s company secretary, Bongani Mathebula, told the commission of inquiry into the affairs of the PIC on Wednesday.

Mathebula said political formations including the EFF, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union’s (Popcru’s) investment arm PGC, the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) and Cosatu’s Kopano ke Matla wrote to the PIC endorsing investment in Iqbal Survé’s botched Sagarmatha Technologies deal. 

Mathebula, who was suspended from the PIC in 2018 but reinstated by the new board in March, said Matjila asked her to forward these parties’ e-mails to the PIC’s investment committee in order to influence its decision to approve the transaction.

“The interference by unions and political formations in the board and investment processes facilitated by the CEO is not in line with the investment and governance processes at the PIC,” said Mathebula.

She said she had never been asked before to forward e-mails from third parties to the investment committee for consideration when the PIC was looking at possible investee companies.

The e-mails were sent by Fedusa general secretary Dennis George, Popcru CEO Zwilenkosi Mdletshe and Steve Thabedi from Kopano, while an attachment that was alleged to be from Kopano was sent from Survé’s e-mail address.

The EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said Mathebula ought to have named the person who sent the e-mail and therefore he could not respond to the allegation.

PGC Group chief investment officer Ntombi Boikhutso said PGC always supported investment opportunities that would benefit workers and the public. She said the organisation saw it “fit” to give its input as it ordinarily does on many industry issues and investment opportunities.

“This would not have been out of the ordinary,” she said. 

An anonymous source from Fedusa said the union would have written a recommendation for investing on Sagarmatha based on the promise by the company that it would create about 5,000 IT jobs after the listing.

Sagarmatha sought investment from the PIC shortly after the Ayo transaction and in his testimony to the commission in March, PIC’s GM for listed investments, Lebogang Molebatsi painted a picture of how Matjila tried to push the Sagarmatha deal through even when the investment team resisted it.

Mathebula corroborated her colleagues’ previous presentations at the commission that Matjila signed a sale of shares and claims agreement on behalf of the Government Employees Pension Fund with Sagarmatha before the transaction was even thoroughly considered by the investment committee. The deal, however, ended up not happening as the JSE cancelled Sagarmatha’s initial public offering.

Mathebula is now back at the PIC after the board decided to go against the chairperson of her disciplinary committee hearing who found her guilty and recommended that she must be dismissed. Instead, the board gave her a final written warning without explaining why it did not uphold the sanction recommended by the disciplinary committee’s chairperson.