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Fedusa aims to protect government employees’ pensions

‘What we see is they want to capture the PIC to bail out state-owned enterprises’ says general secretary Dennis George.
There have been reports the Treasury is looking to tap into the PIC's funds to bail out struggling SOEs. Picture: Bloomberg

NASTASSIA ARENDSE:  I’m joined on the line by Dennis George from the Federation of Unions of South Africa, Fedusa. Dennis, thanks so much for your time.

DENNIS GEORGE:  Good evening and good evening to all your listeners.

NASTASSIA ARENDSE:  Last night I gave listeners a summary of what your statement was addressing – the statement that you released on Saturday. Talk to me about your concerns. I know the previous finance minister likes to use that famous saying, “We must connect the dots”. Based on that, tell me what your concerns are.

DENNIS GEORGE:  Look, we at Fedusa have seen now for the last three weeks there’s a concerted effort to do something with the Public Investment Corporation. We wrote a letter to the minister. The first time I met with the deputy minister. As far as we are concerned we can’t trust these people because they had a press conference and said everything is fine, everything is good, everything is good.

On October 6 the minister issued a media statement. The first time the minister asked the PIC CEO and board to conduct a forensic investigation into concerns of irregularities at the asset manager.

Now why would you have a press conference after promising the public everything is [good]. What we see is they want to capture the PIC to bail out state-owned enterprises and there is a big issue of legality going on. It’s happened and we need “to connect the dots”, in the famous words of Pravin Gordhan.

But what we know is there is a pattern developing. The same thing happened with Eskom, the same thing happened with SAA. This pattern is to move out the CEOs and bring in other CEOs, put in people as “acting” so there is all the time a situation of instability. And they also started with the four finance ministers that we’ve had.

For us the situation is we can’t wait for this to happen, we can’t wait. That’s the reason why we came our very strongly to say look, we are going to withdraw our money from that particular Government Employees Pension Fund, because we cannot live under circumstances that exist now. There is no leadership in this country from government and what is happening is what the deputy president made clear. He said the government is at war with itself, between the factions. That is a real concern for us, and we do have the responsibility to protect the interests of our members. We must protect the pension monies against any person, whether it’s government, or whoever. And that is what our responsibility is.

NASTASSIA ARENDSE:  This is a conversation we need to have two weeks from now when the PIC publishes the investment list, and we see what’s going on and then see the events subsequent to that, whether there is going to be – this may be a bit extreme here – any purging out of executives within the PIC.

But Dennis, thanks so much for your time this evening. Let’s keep an eye on this and see what happens in the next month or so.

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