Finance minister Nhlanhla Nene backs PIC boss Dan Matjila amid political row

EDINBURGH — It’s been a tough time in the headlines for Dan Matjila, the boss of South Africa’s state asset manager, the Public Investment Corporation (PIC). Matjila has been accused of using his influence to push financial support in the direction of a love interest. But, he has denied the allegations as has the woman – who also denies having a romantic relationship with Matjila. For Matjila, the smear campaign is the work of corrupt individuals who have been trying to get their hands on state support and failed. Nhlanhla Nene, the finance minister who was fired by Jacob Zuma because he was seen to be in the way of looting state assets, has given Matjila his full backing. Nene, who was reinstated by new president Cyril Ramaphosa, has refused to suspend Matjila as a political party has requested. – Jackie Cameron

By Ana Monteiro

(Bloomberg) – South Africa’s finance minister is opposing a political party’s demand to immediately suspend the head of the country’s biggest money manager because the department is already probing allegations of governance breaches there.

The United Democratic Movement on June 15 asked a court to direct Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene to suspend Public Investment Corp. Chief Executive Officer Dan Matjila, bar the PIC’s board from taking decisions on removing or disciplining the CEO, and instead make this the minister’s responsibility. The UDM’s request follows accusations that Matjila used PIC funds to support the business of a woman with whom he was romantically involved, claims the CEO has denied.

PIC chief executive Dan Matjila gestures as he speaks during an interview in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photographer: Dean Hutton/Bloomberg

The “invitation to the court to usurp the minister’s powers” isn’t congruent with the constitution because “the facts do not call for such a drastic remedy and doing so would be a breach of the principle of separation of powers,” Nene said in an affidavit dated July 2. He has engaged “multiple stakeholders” on the governance issues at the PIC, including the allegations against the CEO, Nene said.

The PIC, which manages state workers’ pension funds, handles more than R1.9 trillion ($144 billion) of assets. The UDM holds four of the 400 seats in the National Assembly.

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