18 April 2024 | 01:49 PM

PIC: How years of digging paid off

Key Takeaways

“Malfeasance”. “Disastrous”. “Disingenuous”. “Gross negligence”.

If there exists a thesaurus of “very bad things”, it has been lying open on Judge Lex Mpati’s desk.

Yesterday, President Cyril Ramaphosa released Mpati’s long-awaited report into allegations of corruption and mismanagement at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).

The 995-page report tears into former PIC boss Dr Dan Matjila and the operation he ran from 2005, first as chief investment officer and then as chief executive from 2014.

Although the report only scratches the surface of a handful of the deals in the PIC’s R2-trillion portfolio, it provides a devastating picture of how public servants’ pensions were managed.

“[T]he PIC was often used as a bailout fund for connected insiders and also a bailout fund for bad investments made by the PIC,” the report states at one point.

For investigative journalists, the report vindicates years of dogged reporting.

How we paved the way for Mpati

You can download the full 995-page report produced by Judge Lex Mpati’s panel here. Keep an eye out for some of these deals which amaBhungane helped expose – and how our reporting has been vindicated.

Independent Newspapers: Our 2013 report on the PIC’s investment led Iqbal Survé to accuse us of being “controlled by the CIA”. Re-live that charade here. Now the PIC is suing to reclaim its R609-million investment. Read the background here.

S&S: Together with the Mail & Guardian we probed S&S Refineries – a $62.5-million investment in a now-collapsed Mozambican oil refinery introduced by the son of then finance minister Nhlanhla Nene. Read more here.

Ayo Techology Solutions: The commission found the PIC’s R4.3-billion investment was characterized by “malfeasance” by Iqbal Survé’s Sekunjalo Group and “gross negligence” from Dr Dan Matjila and the PIC’s then chief financial officer. Our story unpacked the building blocks of this outrageous gambit here.

Erin Energy: The PIC stands to lose $337-million (R5.5-billion) in a disastrous Nigerian oil deal linked to a benefactor of then president Jacob Zuma, Kase Lawal. We blew the whistle on the deal way back, here and here and tracked its sorry demise here.

Sagarmatha: Sagarmatha Technologies (aka the “African Unicorn”) was likely to get billions from the PIC in Survé’s most ambitious deal. That is, until we cried foul. This story heralded the beginning of the end of the Survé empire.

Tosaco: The PIC’s R1.7-billion investment in Total included bullying, R100-million in unexplained transaction fees and an array of politically-connected names. Read more here. [/sidebarContentStory]

When Ramaphosa launched the commission of inquiry in 2018, he was explicit that the commission should investigate the “persistent and continued negative reports” about the PIC that were emerging in the media.

Many of those reports came from amaBhungane and its journalists.

Our coverage started way back in 2012, when we reported the ANC stood to benefit from PIC support for an investment in Capitec Bank by Regiments Capital and partners.

Little did we know that Regiments would go on to play a pivotal role in state capture, but the political imperatives that characterised that deal would become a hallmark of everything that was wrong with PIC.

Those dubious imperatives underlay our early questioning of the PIC’s funding of the 2013 takeover of Independent Newspapers by a consortium led by Dr Iqbal Survé – and also our probe of the PIC’s disastrous investment in Camac, the American-Nigerian money-pit run by that friend of the ANC, Kase Lawal.

When Matjila, the avuncular “Dr Dan”, was still a media darling we started peeling away at his facade.

We did the same with Survé – enduring abuse and slander from his lapdogs when we started stripping naked his commercial conceits.

Brave whistle-blowers at the PIC got the ball rolling, but in the face of the huge vested commercial and political interests, it was journalism that helped turn their whispers into a roar.

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amaBhungane

Before joining the amaBhungane team in 2017, Micah was the national coordinator for media freedom and diversity at the Right2Know Campaign. He holds a Masters in African Studies from Oxford University and a BA Honours in History from Wits University.

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