Jacob Zuma has responded to stern criticism from Cosatu, saying that his move to sign the Tax Administration Amendment Act (which affects pensions) was not taken unilaterally.
Cosatu issued a statement on Wednesday saying it had noted that the national Treasury “is proposing to gradually phase out lump sum pension payments in a bid to foster retirement savings”.
The union federation said it was concerned that the proposal “has been made public before a long-awaited discussion paper on the future of retirement funds has been submitted to Nedlac, as the government promised it would”.
Nedlac – the National Economic Development and Labour Council – facilitates dialogue among its social partners including government, labour, business and community representatives.
But on Thursday the Presidency said: “President Jacob Zuma did not act unilaterally when signing the Tax Administration Amendment Act.”
President Zuma’s office added that: “The law was considered at NEDLAC. It was also discussed openly in parliament. It was passed by both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces following public hearings.”
The contentious matter has been seen as a sign of tension in the Tripartite Alliance comprising the ruling African National Congress, Cosatu and the South African Communist Party.
Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini was quoted by Business Day newspaper online as saying the federation would apply for permission to hold protests under Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act.
“Yes, it does affect the alliance. It talks to the levels of respect and the lack of consultation. We will have to address this issue sharply. This was one matter that was do-or-die for workers,” Dlamini was quoted as saying.