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23 Sep 2017
8:46 am

Gigaba must keep hands off people’s pensions at PIC, warns DA


Alarming reports that the finance minister plans to raid the PIC for R100bn to bail out struggling SOEs are 'disturbing, to say the least'.

Former minister Malusi Gigaba. Picture: Gallo Images

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba and his deputy Sfiso Buthelezi – who also chairs the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) – seem to be “planning a raid on the pensions of millions of hard-working government employees and pensioners”, the Democratic Alliance said on Saturday.

Reports that the National Treasury was trying to force the PIC to commit to providing an alarming R100 billion to bail out numerous struggling state-owned enterprises (SOEs), including R12 billion for South African Airways (SAA), were disturbing to say the least, DA spokesman Alf Lees said.

“The PIC oversees the biggest fund in Africa, managing some R1.9 trillion in assets mainly belonging to the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF),” he said.

“While the DA has repeatedly warned of this possibility, in particular for the SAA bailout, these reports confirm the possibility that the minister and deputy … are planning a raid on the pensions of millions of hard-working government employees and pensioners.”

It was therefore deeply concerning that there was also allegedly a plot to remove the PIC’s current CEO Dan Matjila, which was reportedly “a greedy attempt” by the wealthy, politically connected Gupta family to hijack the PIC and “loot from the people of our country”, Lees said.

Gigaba was yet again seemingly at the centre of a push to put the pensions of millions of government employees at risk, and in the process playing the role of the mismanagement and corruption enabler.

It seemed that, given a very open-ended investment mandate given to the PIC by the GEPF, the PIC would be able to make billions of rands of pensioners’ funds available for “investments” in mismanaged SOEs such as SAA without the PIC first getting the go-ahead from the GEPF.

SAA had had many turnaround strategies in the past that had not worked and the new “plan” felt like déjà vu with controversial SAA board chairwoman Dudu Myeni at the helm of this nightmare. Myeni had to go and SAA needed to be put under business rescue so that it could be stabilised and privatised.

“Gigaba must not be allowed to plunder the PIC and the future financial security of government employees just to bail out utterly dysfunctional state-owned enterprises that have been run into the ground under the ANC,” Lees said.

– African News Agency (ANA)