The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance on Monday said the committee must guard against jumping to conclusions about allegations in the media relating to individuals or businesses connected to the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).
The Sunday Times alleged that Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize had facilitated a R210-million loan for Afric Oil and received a R4.5-million kickback as a result.
Chairperson Yunus Carrim stated that the committee would like to place on record that the 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,” said Carrim.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has said it wants the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) to probe the allegations against Mkhize, with the DA Shadow Minister of Finance David Maynier saying he will write to the chairperson of Scopa Themba Godi requesting him to schedule a hearing.
While Carrim said that Maynier was welcome to refer his concerns over the PIC to Scopa he said Scopa did not have the power to decide on the guilt or innocence of any individual or business, and was required to refer matters to the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation and the criminal justice system.
The committee stated that Maynier, as a member of the committee, has not been stopped from asking any questions, nor can the committee prevent him from doing so.
“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,” stated the committee.
The committee went on to say it had noted that Maynier wanted to convert a meeting on June 5 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,” added Carrim.
The committee said it appreciated that it did not have the technical and forensic capacity to investigate if any of the allegations against individuals or businesses in the public domain were valid.