Zweli Mkhize denies pressuring PIC's Matjila to fund ANC event

11 July 2019 - 09:56
By Isaac Mahlangu
Dan Matjila, the former head of  the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), appears at an inquiry into the state asset manager.
Image: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko Dan Matjila, the former head of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), appears at an inquiry into the state asset manager.

Former Public Investment Corporation boss Dan Matjila approached several companies funded by the corporation asking them to fund the ANC's January 8 event at the request of former party treasurer Zweli Mkhize.

This emerged at the PIC commission of inquiry in Pretoria yesterday.

Although Matjila had told the commission he was uncomfortable with revealing the name of the "top politician" who asked him to approach business people, the inquiry's evidence leader Jannie Lubbe revealed after lunch break that it was Mkhize he was referring to.

Mkhize has, however, denied this.

Matjila said he asked Lawrence Mulaudzi, a businessman who benefited from PIC funding, to assist by funding the ANC's annual event.

President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed former Supreme Court of Appeal judge Lex Mpati to head the commission of inquiry. Mpati is assisted by former Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus and Emmanuel Lediga as commissioners.

Matjila also confirmed to have asked several other business people who had been funded by the PIC to help the ANC.

Marcus asked: "Why would you deem it appropriate as the head of the PIC to pass [on] such a request... any political party should have contacted them [business people] themselves."

Matjila said such requests were normal.

Matjila also told the inquiry when former deputy finance minister Sifiso Buthelezi became chair of the PIC in 2017, a R3bn request to fund the National Empowerment Fund (NEF), run by Buthelezi's sister Philisiwe Mthethwa, was made. A R1bn funding request was turned down in 2016. However, when Buthelezi was appointed deputy minister, the request for increased funding of R3bn "was resuscitated". Matjila referred to this as one of the examples of transactions "which involved political pressure".

He said despite the push and a second fresh look into the NEF request for R3bn, "NEF still failed the test".

"The chairman [Buthelezi] intervened at the infamous airport meeting of 7th September 2017," Matjila said.

One of the transactions Matjila mentioned involved former SAA board chair Dudu Myeni who requested R6bn funding from the PIC in August 2017. The PIC didn't fund due to the low investment grade rating of the SAA, he said.

Matjila said his expulsion from the PIC was politically motivated and meant to ensure that Edcon would be funded by the PIC ahead of the elections.

Mkhize said: "I want to categorically state that at no point did I or the ANC treasurer-general's office request funding from any state-owned entity, including the PIC. While I do not have any recollection of sending Dr Matjila a message, it is highly likely he may have received an invitation. to ANC [and Progressive Business Forum] breakfast or dinner event[s]... This does not mean that I, the ANC or the PBF had an expectation for any invitee, including Matjila, to take funds from a state-owned entity, not to mention pressurising third parties to donate to such events."