Dr Dan Matjila, the charismatic and controversial boss of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), has offered to resign — but effective in five months only.
Matjila made the unusual offer earlier this month, a spokesperson for finance minister Tito Mboweni confirmed.
“The Minister of Finance is aware of the intention of the CEO of the Public Investment Corporation to resign,” spokesperson Jabulani Sikhakhane said on Tuesday.
“The PIC’s memorandum of incorporation states: ‘The board shall, with the approval of the Minister, appoint a suitably skilled and qualified person as the chief executive of the company.’ Therefore, the PIC board is currently dealing with Dan Matjila’s intention, after which the board will seek Minister’s approval.”
It is understood the PIC board will convene in the next few days.
Matjila has not actually submitted his resignation, but merely proposed that he will do so at the end of January in terms of a plan that will see him remain in charge and actively engaged in handing over to a successor.
Under the plan, he will remain chief executive during a three-month notice period ending on 30 April 2019. He will also avail himself to assist the commission of inquiry which President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed to investigate the affairs of the PIC.
While this appears to secure Matjila’s voluntary participation, it may also be interpreted as an attempt by him to remain in control of information flows to the commission while it goes about its work.
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The commission, headed by former Supreme Court of Appeal president Judge Lex Mpati, is mandated to submit its final report no later than 15 April.
The plan will also thwart calls for Matjila to step aside during the inquiry so that staff can volunteer information without fear of victimisation.
Ramaphosa suspended former South African Revenue Service commissioner Tom Moyane in March pending disciplinary proceedings and before the Nugent commission of inquiry into SARS started its work. SARS officials testified freely about Moyane.
Matjila has been personally associated with many of the scandals at the PIC that the Mpati commission may probe.
Mpati’s terms of reference include examining “alleged impropriety regarding investment decisions by the PIC in media reports in 2017 and 2018”.
Media allegations during this period include those relating to PIC investments in a questionable palm-oil refinery linked to former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene’s son; in oil firm Erin Energy, run by a close associate of former president Jacob Zuma and which may cost the PIC close to R4-billion; in Steinhoff, which could cost the PIC billions more; and in the collapsed VBS Mutual Bank.
They also include the PIC’s investment or proposed investment in two ventures linked to Iqbal Survé, Ayo Technology Solutions and Sagarmatha Technologies.
Matjila declined to comment but PIC spokesperson Sekgoela Sekgoela said in a statement:
“Employment matters are confidential as between employer and employee. The CEO will not be discussing these in public, except to emphasise that he remains employed by the PIC and that his five year contract ends in 2019.”
Matjila has been with the PIC for 15 years and his contract is due to expire at the end of December 2019. However, it is understood he cited the ongoing investigations into the PIC – which he has claimed are politically-motivated – as the reason for his early exit.
In July, then-finance minister Nene instructed the PIC board to launch an investigation into allegations that Matjila diverted PIC funds to businesswoman Pretty Louw, described as his “girlfriend”.
The report, prepared by Advocate Geoff Budlender, has not been officially released but a leaked copy did not corroborate the “girlfriend” claim, instead finding that Matjila had bowed to pressure from then-minister of state security David Mahlobo, who was connected to Louw.
*Additional reporting by Stefaans Brümmer