UNIONS WARN GI­GABA TO BACK OFF ON PEN­SIONS

CityPress - - News - MSINDISI FENGU msindisi.fengu@city­press.co.za

Unions have warned Fi­nance Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba and his deputy Sfiso Buthelezi to keep their hands off civil ser­vants’ pen­sions.

The SA Demo­cratic Teach­ers’ Union (Sadtu) wants a say in how the Pub­lic In­vest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (PIC) man­ages the pen­sions of its mem­bers. This was one of the res­o­lu­tions the union took dur­ing a four-day na­tional gen­eral coun­cil.

Sadtu gen­eral sec­re­tary Mug­wena Maluleke told City Press yes­ter­day that this was based on a de­mand that the PIC “must not be Gup­tarised”.

“We are go­ing to ex­pose and fight any at­tempt to touch the money of the PIC, even if we have to em­bark on in­dus­trial ac­tion to pro­tect the sav­ings of the work­ers that are in­vested by the PIC,” he said.

This fol­lows yes­ter­day’s state­ment by the Fed­er­a­tion of Unions of SA (Fe­dusa), in which it ac­cused Gi­gaba of launch­ing a “fresh as­sault” on the PIC and its chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Dan Matjila.

The state­ment fol­lowed Gi­gaba’s an­nounce­ment on Fri­day that he had writ­ten to Matjila and the PIC board ask­ing for a list of its ben­e­fi­cia­ries and in­vest­ments within two weeks. In ad­di­tion, he wants a foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tion into “any con­cerns of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties” at the state as­set man­ager.

The PIC con­trols R1.67 tril­lion of the Gov­ern­ment Em­ploy­ees’ Pen­sion Fund (GEPF).

Matjila re­cently came un­der pres­sure from some quar­ters of gov­ern­ment and the board, which Buthelezi chairs, for his al­leged re­fusal to al­low the PIC’s money to be used to bail out fail­ing state-owned en­ter­prises.

He has sur­vived sev­eral at­tempts to oust him. Yes­ter­day, Maluleke op­posed the use of teach­ers’ pen­sions to bail out fail­ing state-owned com­pa­nies.

“Bailouts must be in­formed by the needs of our peo­ple and not the needs of the Gup­tas and the elites – in par­tic­u­lar the busi­ness­peo­ple and the politi­cians,” he said.

Maluleke said Sadtu had ar­ranged meet­ings with the PIC and GEPF and would meet le­gal ad­vis­ers to un­der­stand the PIC Act. Their aim was to see how they could change the board to en­sure it did not ac­count to one in­di­vid­ual – Buthelezi.

At the open­ing of Sadtu’s coun­cil on Thurs­day, Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa hinted that the union should get in­volved in the PIC board to pro­tect their mem­bers’ in­ter­ests. Fe­dusa gen­eral sec­re­tary Den­nis Ge­orge said in a state­ment that there was a “re­lent­less and con­certed cam­paign to desta­bilise the PIC” and change its lead­er­ship.

“We must re­mind South Africa that Gi­gaba has been one of the cen­tral ar­chi­tects of the state cap­ture project since Novem­ber 2010, when he was ap­pointed min­is­ter of pub­lic en­ter­prises,” he said.

“Gi­gaba was in­stru­men­tal in the sys­tem­atic re­moval of com­pe­tent, in­de­pen­dent boards of state-owned en­ter­prises (SOE) and re­plac­ing board mem­bers with Gupta-linked di­rec­tors, who op­er­a­tionalised the whole­sale loot­ing of our SOEs. The most prom­i­nent ex­am­ples of this are Transnet, Eskom and Denel.”

Fe­dusa said it would con­sult its af­fil­i­ates and lobby the Congress of SA Trade Union and Na­tional Coun­cil of Trade Unions about re­view­ing or with­draw­ing the GEPF’s in­vest­ment man­date from the PIC and hand­ing it to a pri­vate sec­tor as­set man­ager.

Fe­dusa de­manded rep­re­sen­ta­tion on the PIC board, to pro­tect the pen­sions and sav­ings of pub­lic sec­tor work­ers and their ben­e­fi­cia­ries from loot­ing.

Ge­orge said Gi­gaba had long done the Gup­tas’ bid­ding, first at pub­lic en­ter­prises and then at home affairs. He warned that desta­bil­is­ing the PIC would have “far-reach­ing con­se­quences for our econ­omy”.

On Fri­day, Gi­gaba’s spokesper­son, May­ihlome Tsh­wete, was quoted as say­ing that there was noth­ing to fear from the min­is­ter’s ac­tions.

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