Trade union Solidarity says it is worried about possible political interference at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which may result in the squandering of the money from the South African Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF).
This comes in the wake of statements made by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba (pictured), in which he mentions that the fund could possibly serve as a source of capital to provide bailouts to ailing government institutions. There is already uncertainty about the minister’s credibility because of his connections with the controversial Gupta family.
Schalk de Bruin, head of Special Projects at Solidarity, contends that the minister’s attempt to get rid of PIC CEO, Dr Dan Matjila, is one of many signs that the minister is trying to interfere politically in the management of the fund. “Such conduct by politicians poses a threat to the future of a well-managed fund,” De Bruin said.
De Bruin asserts that in this matter Solidarity acts on behalf of around 10,000 members. “We have a vested interest to protect our members’ pension on their behalf and to see to it that their pension benefits are protected with the necessary circumspection,” De Bruin said.
It is for the very reason of offering such protection that Solidarity submitted an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to both the PIC and the GEPF to obtain information about investments and related procedures, thereby ensuring that the PIC, as its historical return indicates, is still managed in the best interests of its contributors. “The purpose of the application pertains mainly to major transactions which, given the fund’s scale, constitute small percentages, but give rise to concern about possible political interference in the fund nonetheless. Both institutions failed to respond within the prescribed period of 30 days.
“Moreover Solidarity will, within the framework provided by the Act, endeavour to obtain the relevant information from both institutions for we regard this information as being of importance to all who belong to the fund. We are already aware of various remedies that could be followed should there be signs of misappropriation,” De Bruin said.