TUMISANG NDLOVU: We continue with the day’s top business news. An announcement on a R5 billion loan to Eskom by the Public Investment Corporation has not been widely welcomed. While trade union federation Cosatu has supported the move, the Public Service Association has echoed the sentiments of lobby group Outa in opposing it.
PSA deputy secretary general Tahir Maepa joins us on the line. Tahir, tell us about the basis of your organisation’s opposition.
TAHIR MAEPA: Well, our decision to oppose this bailout is based on a principal agreement that we had between ourselves, PIC and GPF. Cosatu was also there, Saftu was also there, when we made presentations in parliament.
During those presentations it was agreed that until such a time that these state-owned enterprises demonstrate the capability to deal with corporate governance issues within them they are not going to be funded anymore.
And besides that, the PIC has over-invested in these state-owned enterprises, which has a risk factor that comes with it. We were shocked yesterday afternoon when we saw the joint statement of both the PIC and GPF, saying that they had decided to give Eskom a soft loan. We saw it as a sense of betrayal and lies that have been told to us.
I must also say that we had an impromptu meeting with the PIC today. They came to see the PSA to explain themselves. And from the explanation that they gave us, they obviously thought, or that’s what say, that GPF had consulted because, according to their respondent, GPF said that this was a board decision. But we now know that it was never a board decision. This was a decision that was taken by the chairperson of the GPF and the CEO. Also we find it very strange for them to go above the board and just take such a huge decision on behalf of the pension fund and members.
But nonetheless they then assured the PSA today that they are guaranteeing that this money would be back in the PIC’s account within 30 days. And on the system they will confirm to us exactly the date on which that money will be banked, because they’ve got surety from banks that the delay in assisting Eskom was just an administrative delay. Once they release that money they will give the PIC the money back and it will go back into the coffers of the PIC.
TUMISANG NDLOVU: They have indicated that there was an agreement in place that the PIC would not be lending money state-owned enterprises until some sort of proof is given that they are able to move on from a terrible fiscal position.
Wouldn’t you say that changes in the leadership of Eskom, especially the board – is that not an indication of Eskom as an state-owned enterprise trying to move forward and fix the rot?
TAHIR MAEPA: It’s a step in the right direction, but we cannot say with certainty. We don’t know these people, we don’t know what they are capable of doing, we don’t know their resolve. At the end of the day remember the whole situation in Eskom is quite a complex problem, where a lot of powerful people have been accused of being part of the state capture project. And you will still have there people like [unclear] who’ve been ministers there, you still have Malusi Gigaba being the minister of finance.
So there is no way that we can become positive that simply the new board automatically will result in good corporate governance. They must prove it by action. That is not something that is going to happen overnight. We wish them well. We want them to succeed, but while they are doing that they must leave our money alone.