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Matjila: ‘I am prudent with other people’s money’

Paints a picture of a man who is savvy with money while demonstrating tardiness in getting his submission in on time.

Day one of former Public Investment Corporation (PIC) chief executive Dan Matjila’s testimony at the commission of inquiry got off to an uneventful start on Monday, with the former head focusing mainly on the role he played in turning the PIC into South Africa’s biggest asset manager. 

Matjila had been at the PIC for 15 years after being seconded to the institution as a risk manager by then CEO Brian Molefe in 2003. He became chief investment officer in 2005, and CEO in 2014.

He took the commission through the state asset manager’s corporatisation and how he was instrumental in turning the institution from managing just over R300 billion when he arrived to having over R2 trillion in assets under management at the time of his departure in 2018.

Late submissions 

However, Matjila’s much-anticipated testimony was cut short because he had only provided the commission with his final 227-page statement on Friday afternoon. On Monday the commission said it was yet to receive his complete bundle of annexures after Matjila’s counsel faced difficulties obtaining the relevant documents from the PIC.

The judicial commission of inquiry, appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa in October 2018, said it had agreed with Matjila as early as December 2018 that he would appear and that the date of his testimony had also been finalised well in advance.

The commission also hit back at media leaks of Matjila’s evidence with commission chair Lex Mpati calling it “unacceptable”. While the inquiry will not be investigating the source of the leak, it ruled that his statement will only be publicly released in bits and pieces.

Edcon, the straw that broke Matjila’s back

On Monday Matjila’s testimony focused mainly on his personal and professional background. He painted a picture of a man who learned to be “prudent” with money at an early age when he was saving money to go to university.

“This is something that has stayed with me all my life,” said Matjila. “I am equally prudent with other people’s money.”

According to reports by Bloomberg, Matjila is expected to testify that he was forced to leave the institution partly because he was opposed to the PIC providing rescue funds to distressed retailer Edcon. Apparently, Matjila did not think an Edcon bailout had any investment merit, saying that while jobs would be saved, the deal would not produce adequate returns.

While he did not elaborate on the Edcon deal or his departure on Monday, Matjila did allude to a possible “conflict of interest” regarding former deputy finance minister Mondli Gungubele’s involvement in the R2.7 billion Edcon transaction. 

Appearing before the commission in June labour federation Cosatu’s Matthew Parks testified that earlier this year the union had to intervene to save jobs at Edcon by contacting Gungubele directly because they were unable to reach acting CEO Matshepo More and other PIC executives.

Election threat?

The union is reported to have threatened to not vote for the African National Congress (ANC) in the May elections unless the PIC bailed out the company and saved workers’ jobs. 

Matjila told the commission that the deputy finance minister, who is by tradition the chair of the PIC board, did not have a lot of say in investments made the PIC.  The chairperson’s involvement is limited to investment decisions that are above the delegated authority of the investment committee (usually above R10 billion).

Matjila also touched on the issue of political interference, saying he believes the deputy minister shouldn’t get involved in investment decisions because the PIC is a major investor in the bonds of state-owned companies.  

“There would be a conflict of interest in the chairperson [who also represents the state] being involved in the very enterprises that fall under the purview of the finance ministry,” he said.

Cosatu: Matjila’s allegations “laughable and delusional”

Cosatu hit back at the reports regarding Matjila, saying the former CEO’s resignation was precipitated by a series of allegations of corruption during his tenure at the PIC that compelled him to resign – and not an email by from the union.

“Cosatu and its affected clothing and retail affiliates became involved in the Edcon engagements in late January 2019,” said the union in a statement. “A whole two months after Matjila’s resignation!”

The union said it was strange how it took Matjila nine months to have an “epiphany” that it was Cosatu that was behind his “long overdue resignation”. 

“It’s very difficult to try to string the dots of this chronological gymnastics,” charged Cosatu. “Perhaps Dr Matjila is a member of the flat earth society.” 

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PIC has been political and therefore reckless with state pensioners money:
– EdCon deal was ‘bailout’ socialist style and reckless;
– PIC’s loans to VBS were pure criminal (A R350m credit facility that the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) extended to VBS Bank in 2015 was used to hand out special “loans” to clients that were not monitored for repayment.);
– PIC’s investment at very much inflated valuations into AYO was just pure corruption.

If Majila ruled over all these, as he did, then he is liable for criminal prosecution.

… and will he ever be “criminally prosecuted”? If so, buy a very big umbrella because pigs will be flying.

Seconded by Brian Molefe I ask you. Not one of the two can spell Prudent.

Nothing will happen. The will join the likes of the terminally ill Shabir Shaik , the Guptas, Jooste, Sturgee, Gigaba, Dudu, etc etc.

ANC cannot deliver-just read a report -over 6 million people hungry in this failed country-and the ANC wants bullet trains, NHI, EWC, RET etc….clueless!!

“A social order is doomed if the actions which its normal functioning requires are rejected by the standards of morality, are declared illegal by the laws of the country, and are prosecuted as criminal by the courts and the police. The Roman Empire crumbled to dust because it lacked the spirit of liberalism and free enterprise. The policy of interventionism and its political corollary, the Fuhrer principle, decomposed the mighty empire as they will by necessity always disintegrate and destroy any social entity.” – Ludwig Von Mises

The Fuhrer principle refers to the central planning of the economy by Luthuli House. Plans like the National Democratic Revolution, the plan to “create” black industrialists, the plan to “create” emerging farmers, the plan to “create” jobs, the plan to “create” a “just and equal society” and the plan to deploy clueless cadres, are all symptoms of the terminal disease of socialism. The mere existence of these plans is sufficient proof that the economy and social cohesion is heading for the cliff. Our economy was the strongest in Africa, but like in the Roman Empire, the economy is never strong enough to withstand socialism.

I would be very worried if all my pension monies are managed by PIC. Very worried indeed.

“Matjila’s counsel faced difficulties obtaining the relevant documents from the PIC”

– Possibly because no records were kept???

“This is something that has stayed with me all my life,” said Matjila. “I am equally prudent with other people’s money.””

– The honourable member of managing other peoples’ monies should distinguish between a job interview and a commission of enquiry.

I’m going to reply very cynical….what is your pension worth anyway in a dysfunctional land, probably with no future?

And one has to wonder where Dr Dan’s pension is invested?

“Apparently, Matjila did not think an Edcon bailout had any investment merit, saying that while jobs would be saved, the deal would not produce adequate returns.”

Yet AYO could get R4 billion?

I’m prudent with other people’s money…on Tuesdays, only between 2 and 2:15 in the morning.

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