One of the people implicated in the commission of inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) has come out guns blazing this week.
In an interview with City Press, Kholofelo Maponya, the head of Matome Maponya Investment (MMI) Holdings, accused the PIC of sabotaging all the deals he had concluded with them because he refused to comply with the corporation’s “unreasonable” requests.
This follows testimony this week by Royith Rajdhar, the PIC’s executive head of developmental investments. He was the senior fund principal at the time the PIC invested in poultry producer Daybreak Farms in 2015.
Rajdhar said that Maponya’s MMI might have got the state asset manager to fund both MMI’s acquisition of a 54% stake in Daybreak and the PIC’s acquisition of a 36% stake in Daybreak. Maponya dismissed these allegations.
Daybreak staff held the remaining 10%.
However, a year on from the acquisition, which took place in April 2016, the business was in a sorry state and faced the prospect of going belly-up.
Rajdhar said at least R926 million was advanced by the PIC to three investments, involving consortiums controlled by Maponya. These took the form of a R367 million investment in agricultural company Afgri, a R480 million investment into SA Home Loans, and a R79 million investment into property development company Magae Makhaya.
MMI was also alleged to have been favoured and got “too many deals” from the PIC – an allegation that Maponya denied, telling City Press of the “pains” he had undergone over his dealings with the PIC.
Maponya said he was unfairly treated by the PIC and that his reputation had been sullied by some of the evidence presented to the commission. He said he would gladly tell his side of the story if and when called to do so. “I am glad this commission was constituted because I have knocked on a lot of doors but did not get help,” he said.
From originally holding a 54% stake in Daybreak Farms, situated in Delmas, Mpumalanga, the PIC now owns 100% of the poultry producer – and Maponya claims it was because he was elbowed out of the deal.
“We went into funding [with the PIC] on two projects. They kicked me out of the one, and as for the other one, the PIC withheld funds for no reason. They kicked me out of Daybreak without proper cause. They did the same with every investment I have with them. They were simply recalling all the investments,” said Maponya, adding that the second deal was facilitated by Magae Makhaya and included a R500 million disbursement.
But only R79 million was disbursed, he said – after he threatened to go to court to force the PIC’s hand.
“We settled out of court. They disbursed the funds but came back with unreasonable requests, which were meant to take control away from us,” he said.
As part of this bid to sabotage him, Maponya said, the PIC’s requests included dictating which directors he should bring in as his company’s representatives. In the Daybreak deal, he was told by the PIC to bring in Boas Seruwe as a director. Seruwe is the CEO of Daybreak.
He said the same applied in the Magae Makhaya deal.
“In both instances, under the auspices of governance, I was told to be broader and bring in directors who are not from the PIC, and install service providers I did not understand.
“With regard to Daybreak, this was done. We will deal with more of that when we testify at the commission.
“At first I thought they [the PIC] wanted me to help Seruwe with contracts in the business, but all of a sudden he was supposed to be a director on my part.”
Maponya added that he was not always given a list of people to add to the directors already involved.
However, Seruwe has disputed Maponya’s version, saying he was appointed by the PIC, in agreement, as a non-executive director.
Maponya said he had written numerous letters to former PIC chair Sfiso Buthelezi, who was deputy finance minister at the time, as well as the presidency. Only the presidency showed an interest in addressing his grievances, he said, but it was later told by the PIC not to get involved.
In a copy of the letter Maponya showed City Press, which was addressed to former finance minister Malusi Gigaba, Maponya states that the relationship between MMI and the PIC has deteriorated and this has affected the projects the parties are involved in.
In this letter, dated November 2017, Maponya also pleads with Gigaba for an urgent intervention to avoid the collapse of the businesses.
In the letter, he does not directly mention the issues that concern him, but only makes reference to them. He says he has tried to raise the matter with the PIC and its board, and has received neither a response nor any acknowledgment of receipt of the letter.
Maponya said every investment he had brought the PIC had performed well, adding that the fund manager saw profits within the first year.
“We are seeing a danger in the mandate of the commission being misconstrued,” said Maponya.
He said a narrative was being created that people doing business with the PIC should be limited in these dealings.
He referred to the use of words such as “multifunding” and “overexposure” by those who had testified at the commission, to describe deals that he had been involved in which had yielded good returns. These words, said Maponya, were used to try to curb opportunities for black people like him who provided returns but also wanted to make money.
Maponya said that as a result of his dealings with the PIC, he had had to hold back on investments that would have made the state asset manager more money and, instead, had to approach smaller funders.
Asked whether he had a personal relationship with former PIC chief executive Dan Matjila, which might have soured, Maponya said he only knew Matjila professionally.
“I refused to do some of the things they asked me to, like appointing directors I did not know,” was all he would say.
PIC spokesperson Deon Botha said the organisation would not be commenting on the matter as it was subject to investigation by the commission of inquiry.