State capture of PIC – the Zuptoids show their hand

CAPE TOWN — One giveaway of nefarious agendas is that pious-sounding plotters often sing publicly from different hymn sheets. Another way to keep suspicion healthy is to check out the track records and allegiances of the singers themselves. In what thus seems to be a desperate, potentially time-constrained move to capture one of the richest of State-run entities, the R1,9 trillion-rand Public Investment Corporation, (PIC), its CEO Dan Matjila, is being confronted by known Zuptoids (led by Deputy Finance Minister Sifiso Buthelezi) over the PIC funding of a project linked to an alleged lover. Where does the claim come from? A Gupta-linked website. Buthelezi says the allegations (of State Capture) are unfounded, baseless and causing unnecessary panic over “an internal PIC matter”. What does his spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete say? That the Guptas are a convenient smokescreen to divert attention away from “something else”.  What insiders are saying is that non-other than the Saxonwold Shebeen King, that Zuptoid knight in glowing armour, Brian Molefe, is being groomed to take over. Fedusa and the Public Servants Association are incensed at the prospect of their pension funds being further abused or stolen (witness the funding of Independent Newspapers owner, Dr Iqbal Survé). Whether Matjila stays or goes, it’s a blatant show of Zuptoid hand. – Chris Bateman

By Ana Monteiro and Alastair Reed

(Bloomberg) — Public Investment Corp. Chief Executive Officer Dan Matjila rejected an allegation he misused funds as “spurious” ahead of a board meeting on Friday that could decide his future at the helm of Africa’s biggest money manager.

Johannesburg’s Star newspaper reported Thursday that Matjila has been told by PIC Deputy Chairman Xolani Mkhwanazi to respond to an accusation he used PIC funds to finance a personal project related to someone he is allegedly in a relationship with. Matjila, 55, cut short a trip to the U.S. to be able to attend Friday’s meeting, he said by phone. Pretoria-based PIC, which handles pension funds for South African state workers, has almost 1.9 trillion rand ($145 billion) in assets.

Daniel Matjila, chief investment officer of Public Investment Corp., gestures as he speaks during an interview in Johannesburg on August 27, 2014. Photographer: Dean Hutton/Bloomberg

The accusation against Matjila originates from a website said to be connected to the Gupta family, who are friends with President Jacob Zuma and the subject of allegations that they have used the relationship to influence cabinet appointments and state-contract awards, according to the Star. They want Matjila replaced with Brian Molefe, the former CEO of state power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., the newspaper reported, citing people at the National Treasury that it didn’t identify.

The allegations “lack truth and substance,” the PIC said in an emailed statement. “We challenge the media to provide us with evidence that links any of the members of the PIC board with the Gupta family.”

Molefe is also a former head of the PIC and worked as deputy director general at the Treasury. He is currently legally challenging Eskom after the utility was ordered not to give him a pension payout by Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown. Zuma had considered him as a potential finance minister.

“There are no preconceived plans whatsoever to remove” Matjila, Deputy Finance Minister Sfiso Buthelezi, who is chairman of the PIC, said in an emailed statement. “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 CEO, but this is to discuss and get clarification from him on internal matters.”

The Guptas have been the subject of a raft of South African media stories about their alleged corruption based on a trove of leaked emails. They and Zuma deny any wrongdoing. The saga has encompassed some global companies, with Bell Pottinger LLP, the U.K. public-relations firm, filing for administration this week after a report by the industry body found they had run a racially divisive social-media campaign on behalf of the family.

Matjila, a former maths professor, has led the PIC since December 2014. The money manager has 10 non-executive directors, eight of whom were appointed by former finance ministers Pravin Gordhan and Nhlanhla Nene, who were ousted by Zuma, the PIC said.