CAPE TOWN – The much-awaited Commission of Inquiry report into allegations of impropriety at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) has cleared erstwhile chief executive Dr Dan Matjila.
Business Report can reveal that the report made no adverse findings against Matjila, Sekunjalo chairperson Dr Iqbal Survé and his companies, and other black-owned companies. Sources claim that Matjila was described as a credible witness and his submission to Judge Lex Mpati as impeccable.
~ Sizwe Dlamini and Adri Senekal de Wet IOL 24/2/2020
Independent Media believes that the report has classified Matjila as a highly credible witness, knowledgeable about the affairs of the PIC and was found to be someone that exercised sound integrity.
Opinion: Dan Matjila owed an apology by media Sizwe Dlamini 28/2/2020
For the past few months, Iqbal Survé’s Sekunjalo Independent Media newspapers have been carrying orchestrated front page reports across all titles claiming that the Mpati Commission report into malfeasance involving the Public Investment Corporation would completely exonerate him and Dan Matjila, the former CEO of the Public Investment Corporation, and that the media owed Matjila an apology in this regard.
One wondered how, for example, this could be reconciled with the evidence of the PIC’s head of internal audits, Lufuno Nemagovhani.
To anyone who watched the televised evidence of former Survé employees Siphiwe Nodwele and Kevin Hardy, and current employees Naahied Gamieldien and Abdul Malick Salie such claims seemed scarcely credible not least because the ‘thumbsuck’ testimony of the latter was damning
Furthermore, when Gamieldien and Salie had finished testifying, the commissioners were at pains to suggest that they should not face any retribution for telling the truth.
There were other aspects of the “complete exoneration – highly credible witness that exercised sound integrity” claims that were puzzling.
My first question in this regard is obvious: If these ‘complete exoneration’ reports by Mdluli and Dlamini and Senekal de Wet are accurate, why has the PIC gone to court to recoup its AYO investment and why does it want to liquidate Independent Media?
Which leads to my second question.
When the news broke in Dublin during February 2013 that a consortium led by Survé had bought the virtually bankrupt Independent News and Media from its Irish parent company for double what it was worth, Mandy de Waal interviewed him for Daily Maverick.
As a closing remark in the interview, Survé said to her:
“If you know anything about me you know that I operate with incredible integrity.”
The answer was provided and the under-oath testimonies of Nodwele and Hardy and Gamieldien and Salie were vindicated when President Cyril Ramaphosa released the Mpati Commission report on 12 March.
Here are some of the headlines on news articles which summarise the report. They vindicate amaBhungane’s investigative journalism and utterly destroy the fake news reporting of Mdluli, Dlamini and Senekal de Wet which sought to absolve Survé of any guilt.
- Malfeasance’, ‘outright manipulation’ on part of Iqbal Survé – ‘gross negligence’ on part of Dan Matjila
- How Matjila lied to the PIC inquiry about Ayo
- PIC report exec summary: Survé and his Ayo roasted, NPA unleashed
- ‘Marked disregard for PIC policy’ in Survé dealings
- Probe Dan Matjila, says scathing PIC report
- Fact-checking the Independent group’s reporting on the PIC report
- PIC Commission of inquiry report released, finds board was ‘rubber stamp’ for Matjila
- Dan Matjila’s conduct was ‘wholly improper’, inquiry finds
- PIC investments in Survé’s Sekunjalo Group clearly flouted policy, report finds
- PIC inquiry exposes Iqbal Survé’s ‘false claims’, says DA, while calling for prosecution
- PIC and Sekunjalo: a bizarre, value-destroying relationship
- Dan Matjila-led PIC played fast and loose with investor funds, says report
- How we paved the way for Mpati – amaBhungane
- PIC must act promptly against Matjila
- No more raiding the PIC ‘piggybank’
Furthermore, while Ayanda Mdluli and Sizwe Dlamini implied that the evidence leader at the Mpati Commission, advocate Jannie Lubbe, was a racist the commissioners were at pains to congratulate him in their report:
The Commission expresses its sincere appreciation to the Evidence Leader, Advocate Jannie Lubbe (SA), for his sterling work in enabling the Commission conduct its investigations fairly in a particularly challenging environment.
Here is the excerpt from the Mpati Commission report on Survé’s Sekunjalo company:
Overall findings and recommendations in relation to the Sekunjalo Group Investments
67. The Sekunjalo Group investments showed a marked disregard for PIC policy and standard operating procedures.
68. Proper governance was absent or poor, and risk identification processes were downplayed by looking for risk mitigants to make sure the deals were approved.
69. Due diligence reports highlighting issues around independence of Board members, policies to be implemented etc. were not followed up by the PIC to ensure implementation post the deal being approved and monies having flowed.
70. The “close relationship” between Dr Matjila and Dr Survé created top down pressures that the deal teams experienced to get the requisite approvals.
71. Board members within the Sekunjalo Group of companies are not independent. Some board members are related to Dr Survé, are long-serving employees, long- time friends or are non-executive directors on other Sekunjalo Group company boards and dominate the board seats in those companies. Independent non- executive directors are in the minority on the boards of AEEI and Ayo.
72. In the light of the above, the Commission recommends that the PIC must conduct a forensic review of all the processes involved in all transactions entered into with the Sekunjalo Group and ensure that the PIC obtains company registration numbers of every entity in the Sekunjalo Group to be able to conduct a forensic investigation as to the flow of monies out of and into the Group.
73. It is further recommended that the PIC must ensure that all pre- and post- conditions for all investments made, not just those in the Sekunjalo Group, have been fully met and implemented, and that effective processes and systems are in place to properly monitor investments post disbursement.
74. Steps must be taken to recover all monies with interest due to the PIC, especially where personal or other sureties was a precondition to approval of the investment.
75. The PIC must also determine the future role, if any, of the PIC in all of the transactions with the Sekunjalo Group, to protect the interests of the PIC and its client; and review all aspects of the transactions entered into with the Sekunjalo Group to determine whether any laws or regulations have been broken.
76. It is also recommended that the PIC reviews its internal processes, including its standard operating procedures, together with the DoA, to determine responsibility and culpability, and to consider whether there are grounds for disciplinary, criminal and/or civil legal action against any PIC employees or Board members, current or previous.
77. The Commission recommends that the Regulatory and Other Authorities should consider whether any laws and/or regulations have been broken by either the PIC and/or the Sekunjalo Group; determine what legal steps, if any, should be taken to address any such violations; and assess whether the movement of funds between accounts, as indicated above, was intended to mislead/defraud investors and/or regulators.
So how did Survé’s newspapers cover this scathing reflection of ‘malfeasance’, ‘outright manipulation’ and lies?
With more spin than the Wettzell Ring Laser Gyroscope.
Suddenly there is no mention of Survé at all, the headline is anodyne and censorship by omission is freshly defined.
Metronomic threats of suing ‘for billions’ have emanated from Survé and his companies with monotonous and meaningless regularity in the past few years
It is known as SLAPP litigation, it is aimed at curbing media freedom – see here and here and here and here and here and here – and it is meant to intimidate but, as nothing ever comes of these threats, no one takes them seriously any more.
In fact, when given the opportunity by Alide Dasnois to testify under oath and in the presence of dozens of his former employees in the Labour Court, the ‘man who wants to change the world’ and who provides ‘moral leadership’ hastily raised the white flag. He thus made it clear that he did not wish to be cross-examined about his defamatory verbal abuse of her at a trumped-up disciplinary hearing where he promised to use his ‘billions’ to damage her reputation and harm her future employment prospects.
Furthermore, on both occasions that aggrieved members of the public – see here and here – have sued his newspapers for their routine and defamatory fake news reporting, the courts ruled in their favour.
One waits, nevertheless, with weary resignation for the headline that now seems inevitable:
‘Iqbal Survé to sue Mpati Commission for trillions’
Ed Herbst is a retired journalist, and a media commentator.
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