UNIONS WARN GIGABA TO BACK OFF ON PENSIONS
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.