The board of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) was asked to resign immediately or face being fired following allegations of corruption, the judicial commission of inquiry heard on Tuesday.
This is according to testimony given to the PIC commission by Dudu Hlatshwayo who was part of the mass resignation of all non-executive board members on February 1.
Her testimony contradicts that of board chairperson and deputy minister of finance Mondli Gungubele.
Hlatshwayo is one of three non-executive board members that were implicated in allegations of impropriety by an anonymous whistle blower “James Noko”, also known as “Nogu”.
On January 29 minister of finance Tito Mboweni was one of many copied on emails from “Noko”, claiming Hlatshwayo and former chief executive Dan Matjila had worked together to approve an overvalued R4-billion Karan Beef deal to benefit Hlatshwayo’s alleged lover and a politician.
The same tranche of “Noko” emails accused board members Gungubele and Sibusisiwe Zulu of trying to capture the PIC.
Zulu was said to have benefited indirectly from deals that her alleged lover had done with the PIC.
On February 1 the board issued a statement requesting Mboweni release them from their duties, saying the allegations call into question the credibility of the board and would taint all decisions it made.
Hlatshwayo said in a meeting on the same day leading up to the resignation, that Gungubele had excused himself to take a call, and when he returned he told the board that he had been speaking to Mboweni and had “significant” news that would change everything.
“This is when he told the board that the minister wanted the whole board to resign immediately, failing which, the board would be fired by Monday, February 4, 2019,” said Hlatshwayo.
Earlier this week Gungubele told the commission that Mboweni did not tell the board to resign but to reflect on whether they had done a good job at the PIC and also their integrity. Gungubele later told journalists that the board’s decision to resign was unanimous.
Hlatshwayo told the commission that she personally had to “weigh the weight of being fired by Monday vis a vis resigning with the rest of the board and salvaging my dignity”.
She has, under oath, denied all the allegations against her and has asked the person or people spreading the allegations and false rumours to come to the commission to present their evidence.
The board remains in place in a “business as usual” era after Mboweni requested that the directors remain in place until a new board is appointed.