South Africa: Finance committee responds to Public Investment Corporation (PIC) allegations

The Standing Committee on Finance would like to place on record that the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) manages close to R2 trillion and has a major role to play in the country’s economic growth, transformation and job-creation goals. It is therefore inevitable that the PIC is a highly contested space for political, economic and other reasons.

To ensure that the PIC fulfills its role effectively and transparently, the committee is currently processing both a private member’s Bill and a committee Bill relating to the PIC, and has held initial public hearings in this regard.

The committee has met with the PIC nine times over the past nine months, many times more than any other entity that falls within its portfolio. This demonstrates clearly the committee’s commitment to its oversight and legislative role, and also shows its concern for issues at the PIC.

“At our last meeting on 5 June, we requested the PIC board, under its new chairperson, Deputy Minister Mr Mondli Gungubele, to investigate all the allegations in the public domain and report back to Parliament in the third quarter of the year.

“Mr David Maynier, who is a member of the committee, has not been stopped from asking any questions, nor can the committee prevent him from doing so, in terms of the Constitution and the Rules of Parliament. He has, in fact, been asked to forward in writing any further questions he has within seven days, for the committee to forward his questions to the PIC to respond to when it appears before the Committee in the third quarter,” said Mr Yunus Carrim, the Chairperson of the committee.

However, the committee has noted that Mr Maynier wanted to convert a meeting on 5 June into a commission of inquiry to cross-examine the PIC representatives.

Subsequently, it was explained to him that a commission of inquiry would require a process similar to that of the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises, which inquired into allegations of state capture at state-owned companies.

The committee further brought to the attention of Mr Maynier the fact that a commission of inquiry needs an evidence leader, such as Adv Ntuthuzelo Vanara or another lawyer of his caliber and approval from the Office of the Speaker.

“The committee is clear that any person within the PIC or outside it engaging with the PIC who commits any wrong-doing must face the full might of the law. If Mr Maynier has any evidence to suggest any wrong-doing, he is again requested to refer it to the committee so that we can refer it to the police, or he can do this himself,” said Mr Carrim.

Mr Carrim further said that the committee must guard against jumping to conclusions about allegations in the media relating to individuals or businesses connected to the PIC. This applies also to the latest allegations involving Minister Zweli Mkhize.

The committee appreciates that it does not have the technical and forensic capacity to investigate if any of the allegations against individuals or businesses in the public domain are valid. It also understands that such investigations are the domain of the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation, the National Prosecuting Authority and the courts to decide on merit.

“Of course, Mr Maynier is welcome to refer his PIC concerns to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), which does not have the huge legislative workload we do and may have both the time and the expertise to consider this further,” said Mr Carrim.

However, the committee understands that Scopa does not have the power to decide on the guilt or innocence of any individual or business, and is also required to refer matters to the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation and the criminal justice system.

The committee repeats its call for all Members of Parliament, irrespective of their political affiliations, to work together to tackle corruption effectively and decisively.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.

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Source: South Africa