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DA calls for probe into PIC 'smear campaign'

Oct 01 2017 17:53
Compiled by Lameez Omarjee

Johannesburg – The Democratic Alliance (DA) intends to ask deputy finance minister and chair of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) Sfiso Buthelezi, to launch an investigation into a smear campaign against the state pension company.

According to a statement issued by MP David Maynier, the investigation should uncover who has been behind the campaign and whether those implicated can be charged with a criminal offence and if there are grounds to lodge civil claims against them.

“The fact that the allegations against the Chief Executive Officer of the Public Investment Corporation, Dr Dan Majila, have been found to be baseless and that he has been cleared of any wrongdoing is welcome, but it should be the beginning, not the end, of this matter,” he said.

The PIC, which has almost R1.9trn in assets, handles pension funds for South African government workers, including nurses and teachers.

“This was not the first, and is unlikely to be the last, smear campaign by people who are desperate to get their hands on the R1.87trn managed by the Public Investment Corporation,” said Maynier.

On Friday the PIC board had cleared allegations of wrongdoing made against Chief Executive Dan Matjila, following the third special sitting for the month. The claims allege that Matjila had used funds to help a friend.

“The Board fully applied its mind to the report presented by (the) internal audit (committee) and confirms its satisfaction with the report. The Board has concluded that the allegations were baseless and that Dr Matjila is cleared of any wrongdoing,” the PIC said in a statement.

Matjila was previously quoted by the Sunday Times saying that certain people “wanted the keys to the PIC” and that there were attempts to remove him as CEO. He later said that the interview was inaccurate, calling it “distasteful, inaccurate, and designed to drive (a) wedge between minister, myself and the board".

On Sunday a piece authored by Matjila was published in the Sunday Times, where he provided context for this article. In the piece Matjila refuted ideas that he was at "loggerheads” with Treasury’s leadership and the PIC Board. “I continue to enjoy the full support of the minister of finance and the PIC board,” he wrote.

Last week Buthelezi issued a statement to dismiss rumours that there is a plot to remove Matjila from his post. "The Deputy Minister would like to put it on record that these allegations are unfounded, baseless and are causing unnecessary panic over an internal matter at the PIC. There are no preconceived plans whatsoever to remove Dr Matjila," the statement read. 

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