Nene opposes bid to force him to suspend PIC CEO

South Africa’s finance minister is opposing a political party’s demand to immediately suspend the head of the country’s biggest money manager because the department is already probing allegations of governance breaches there.

The United Democratic Movement on June 15 asked a court to direct Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene to suspend Public Investment Corp. Chief Executive Officer Dan Matjila, bar the PIC’s board from taking decisions on removing or disciplining the CEO, and instead make this the minister’s responsibility. The UDM’s request follows accusations that Matjila used PIC funds to support the business of a woman with whom he was romantically involved, claims the CEO has denied.

Read: New twist in Holomisa’s battle over the PIC graft claims 

The “invitation to the court to usurp the minister’s powers” isn’t congruent with the constitution because “the facts do not call for such a drastic remedy and doing so would be a breach of the principle of separation of powers,” Nene said in an affidavit dated July 2. He has engaged “multiple stakeholders” on the governance issues at the PIC, including the allegations against the CEO, Nene said.

The PIC, which manages state workers’ pension funds, handles more than R1.9 trillion ($144 billion) of assets. The UDM holds four of the 400 seats in the National Assembly.