Public servants union gives Gigaba Monday ultimatum on PIC demands | Fin24

Public servants union gives Gigaba Monday ultimatum on PIC demands

Feb 09 2018 07:18
Terry Bell

Cape Town - The PSA (Public Servants Association) is determined to “liberate” the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) from the “clutches of determined looters”. 

So said PSA deputy general manager Tahir Maepa when he announced on Friday that the union had given Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba until Monday to respond to requests the union has been making since September last year.

The union wants to know why, although it is a provision of the PIC Act, no “depositor” (worker or union) representatives were appointed to the PIC board by Gigaba. “It is clear so long as we are absent our members' monies remain in danger,” said Maepa.

The question of how Government Employee Pension Fund (GEPF) monies, amounting to near R2 trillion, are invested came to a head recently with the Steinhoff collapse and the announced intention to provide a R5bn bridging loan to Eskom.

The PSA, which earlier expressed concern about the Steinhoff investments by the PIC, has strongly opposed the loan to the struggling electricity utility, calling it “illegal”.

“We are sticking to our guns on this loan. Our investigation has revealed that this was never a GEPF board decision,” said Maepa. 

According to information given to the PSA, GEPF chairperson Renosi Mokati alone gave the go-ahead. If this information is confirmed, the PSA intends demanding her dismissal for “having overstepped her powers”.

The union feels that so long as no union and worker oversight exists “our members' monies remain in danger”. Of particular current concern is that the union has been told that the all but bankrupt South African Airways (SAA) has made a new plea for funding and that arms maker Denel is also considering an approach for bail-out funds.

The temptation of government to “dip into” employee funds was raised last year by PSA general manager Ivan Fredericks when he expressed concern about largely unnoticed PIC investments in unlisted entities. Some of these were apparently made on the basis of a “social responsibility” agreement with the PIC, but the union fears they may have been politically motivated. Among these is an investment in the Airports Company (Acsa) and a loan and equity deal with Independent Newspapers.

On September 5 last year, Fredericks wrote to Gigaba expressing concern about reports of government intentions to turn to the PIC to bail out SAA. He asked Gigaba to issue “a clear statement” that there was no intention to use pension funds in this way.  

Not having received a reply, Fredericks wrote again to the minister on October 12, this time noting that the composition of the PIC board was “in contravention” of the PIC Act as it did not include “employee representative stakeholders” and that the board “should be representative of the interests of the labour constituency”.

The PSA, wrote Fredericks, was also insisting that, until a representative board was in place, there be no further investment in unlisted entities; no further investment should be made in state-owned enterprises and there should be no roll-overs of bonds in SOEs.

Apart from an acknowledgement of receipt, there was again no reply and in November, the union approached their legal team. On November 27, Faskin Martineau delivered by hand the formal request for the ministers response.

“We have still not heard anything and so, on Monday, we go to court,” said Maepa.

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psa  |  saa  |  pic  |  malusi ­gigaba  |  state owned enterprises  |  unions


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