Dan Matjila, the former head of South Africa's state asset manager. Picture: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO
Dan Matjila, the former head of South Africa's state asset manager. Picture: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO

Former ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize wanted the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) to contribute funds to the party’s 2016 January 8 event, according to the state-owned asset manager’s former CEO Dan Matjila.

Mkhize, however, has denied ever asking Matjila for funding for the ANC. 

 Matjila told an inquiry into the PIC on Wednesday that he was asked to fund the activities of the ANC’s 2016 January 8 event by a “top politician” and declined to publicly name the individual. After an adjournment, the inquiry’s evidence leader Jannie Lubbe told the commission it was current health minister Zweli Mkhize. 

Matjila told the inquiry he turned down Mkhize’s request. 

“I was [then] asked [by Mkhize] if I could contact some of the people that had been funded by the PIC to contribute towards the ANC’s 2016 January 8 statement,” says Matjila.

Wednesday’s admission brought to the fore the extent of political influence at the PIC, which manages more than R2-trillion in government employees’ pension money and other government funds. The Public Finance Management Act precludes state-owned entities such as the PIC from donating to political parties.  

Mkhize said in a statement that “at no point did I or the ANC treasurer-general’s office request funding from any state-owned entity, including the PIC”.  He said the ANC, through the Progressive Business Forum (PBF), facilitated engagements between the business community and political leaders. “And as a political party, we would raise funds from individuals and companies who are members of the PBF and supporters of the ANC.” 

Mkhize said it was likely Matjila received an invitation to attend an ANC breakfast or dinner. 

“This does not mean that I, the ANC or the PBF had an expectation for any invitee, including Matjila, to take funds from a state-owned entity, not to mention pressurising third parties to donate to such events.”

Matjila told the inquiry on Wednesday that he agreed to Mkhize’s request to facilitate the request by contacting business people that had received funding from the PIC. This included Sipho Mseleku from the Sakhumnotho Group, Lawrence Mulaudzi from Kilimanjaro Capital, and Siyanda Resources chair Lindani Mthwa.

His testimony appeared to surprise one of the inquiry’s commissioners, former Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus, who questioned why Matjila was involved with supporting the request at all.

“Why would you pass on such a request? This would create the impression that you can’t get on the wrong side of Dr Matjila. This is a very compromising role as CEO of the PIC. Why did you pass this on?” asked Marcus.

Matjila responded: “I was simply relaying the message of the senior politician. I told him we [the PIC] are not allowed to do this [fund the ANC]. But he told me to pass this on.”

Matjila was not aware if the business people he contacted did, in fact, make donations.

The inquiry has heard from several witnesses who flagged Matjila as playing a key role in approving questionable deals. He has denied this.

The inquiry was appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2018 to investigate allegations of governance failures at the PIC. 

thompsonw@businesslive.co.za