The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) says the public statement issued on Friday by finance minister Malusi Gigaba about the politicisation of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) is a fresh assault on the institution and its CEO. Dr Daniel Matjila.
Gigaba’s statement came on the back of fears expressed by various stakeholders that he planned to dip into government pension funds in order to rescue struggling state owned companies (SOC’s).
Fedusa general secretary Dennis George says this latest assault comes in the wake of a relentless and concerted campaign to destabilize the PIC in order to find any justifiable grounds to replace its executive 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.
“In this portfolio, Gigaba was instrumental in the systematic removal of competent, independent boards of SOC’s in their entirety, and replacing board members with Gupta-linked directors, who operationalised the wholesale looting of our SOC’s. The most prominent examples of this re-purposing of SOC boards are Transnet, Eskom and Denel,” said George.
Together with their affiliates the Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (HOSPERSA); the Public Servants Association (PSA); Suid Afrikaanse Onderwysers Unie (SAOU) and the South African Parastatals and Tertiary Union (SAPTU), Fedusa said it is skeptical about Gigaba’s intervention.
They do not believe Gigaba’s instruction to the PIC and its board to conduct ‘a forensic investigation into any concerns of irregularities at the asset manager’ was made in good faith or to ensure “transparency and further build confidence in the institution,” as he claimed.
George reminded Gigaba that a ‘forensic investigation’, which he now wants the PIC to conduct, is the practice of lawfully establishing evidence and facts that are to be presented in a court of law.
“A legitimate forensic investigation requires clear terms of reference: it has to be concerned with specific allegations of specific acts; specific time-frames for alleged irregularities must be set down; and, in the context of the PIC, suspected irregular transactions must be identified to ensure a credible, bona fide process.
“On the contrary, a forensic investigation ‘into any concerns of irregularities’ is an undefined, open-ended tool that political sycophants like Gigaba can abuse to remove the guardians of our members’ pension funds. We are observing his disingenuous modus operandi at the PIC with great alarm. Since 15 September 2017, three special PIC board meetings have been called by him or his deputy, Sifiso Buthelezi, who is also the Chairman of the PIC board,” George said in a press statement.
George said frequency of these special Board meetings is highly irregular, if not unprecedented, in the history of the PIC and that they sought to deal with any number of spurious allegations against Dr Matjila and the PIC Board. This, Fedusa argued, is desoute hhe PIC and Matjila have been exonerated.
“FEDUSA will urgently consult all its structures and other trade union federations like NACTU and COSATU over the next few days. The union federation will propose that organised labour review and possibly withdraw the investment mandate the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) has with the PIC. Organized labour has two representatives on the Board of Trustees of the GEPF and its alternates,” said George.