The Congress of South African Trade Unions, the country’s biggest labour federation and a key ally of the ruling party, said it wants the R104 billion of Eskom’s debt held by the state pension fund manager to be converted into equity owned by workers.
The proposal, made in an opinion piece in Business Day newspaper by Cosatu’s General Secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali, is part of a deal the labour federation is trying to reach with business and government to rescue Eskom. The utility can’t supply sufficient power to the country and has R454 billion in debt.
“This will result in workers becoming shareholders in the power utility,” he said, without giving further details.
Eskom is seen as key to South Africa’s economic performance and the country’s ability to hold onto its last investment grade credit rating. Regular power cuts are hindering output in Africa’s most industrialised economy.
Ntshalintshali also recommended that at least 10% of all pension funds, whether private or government owned, be invested in government bonds geared toward social investment and employment creation.
“Workers believe that their retirement funds can contribute toward economic growth, socially desirable investments and employment creation,” he said.
The raising of the possibility of so-called prescribed assets is likely to anger investors who are opposed to having their investments dictated by government.
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