JOHANNESBURG - Cosatu’s biggest affiliate has warned that all its more than 300 000 members will take to the streets should Finance Minister Minister Malusi Gigaba allow the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), the custodian of workers pensions, be “hijacked” by the Guptas.
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) joined the chorus of labour organisations that reacted to alleged attempts to remove PIC chief executive Dr Daniel Matjila in order to replace him with a Gupta-linked appointee.
On Thursday Nehawu said that legal action and the mobilisation of its members against the alleged PIC hijack were on the cards should any untoward changes take place in the institution’s executive.
On Thursday Independent Media reported of a plan by the controversial family to replace the PIC chief executive with a board member, who was recently appointed to the board by Gigaba.
This, sources said, is set to take place at today’s special board meeting, where Matjila was summoned back from an overseas trip in the US by PIC deputy chairperson Xolani Mkhwanazi to answer allegations of Matjila funding a project linked to an alleged lover.
The PIC is the biggest investor in the economy, with roughly R1.8 trillion under its wing on behalf of the Government Employees Pension Fund.
Nehawu spokesperson Khaya Xaba told Independent Media the union was aware of attempts by Treasury to use workers’ money to bail out “a black hole like SA Airways”, saying they would not allow it.
“We are totally opposed to the bail out of SAA using State resources and the hard earned money of our workers. In order to save SAA, throwing money at it would not be the starting point. The starting point would be getting rid of the board, especially Dudu Myeni – that will save SAA from financial ruin,” Xaba emphasised.
“Should it happen that workers’ retirement savings are used to bail out SAA, we are going to mobilise,” he said, adding legal action to prevent “undue” change at the PIC and the use of worker savings to bail out state owned entities was “also an option”.
Teacher union Sadtu also weighed on the matter, saying they were ready to defend their monies from being used to save the SOEs milked by the Guptas.
“As a Union representing no less than 250 000 public servants whose pension funds are being managed by the PIC, we will do everything in our might to oppose any attempts to capture this entity.”
The Federation of Unions of South Africa’s general secretary Dennis George cautioned that its members could resign from public service “in order to save their hard earned investments and secure their future,” should Treasury dip into the GEPF, warehoused in the PIC, to fund struggling state entities such as SAA and Eskom.
However, Treasury rejected claims of Matjila’s removal yesterday, saying there were no “preconceived plans to remove Dr Matjila”.
Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union spokesman Richard Mamabolo said it could no longer be tolerated that workers money was abused for private gain.
“We have an average of 900 000 public service workers who do not have houses, yet their retirement funds continue to bail out parastatals which are seemingly not accountable to anyone. We need to urgently reclaim the mandate that has been given by the populace, which has been stolen by this individual family.
The SACP also slammed the Guptas’ attempts to capture the PIC.
“If true, the shenanigans must be dealt with decisively for what they represent, a brazen smash and grab private wealth accumulation regime now manoeuvring towards the capture of the sweat and blood of workers,” SACP spokesman Alex Mashilo said.
“The SACP condemns this in the strongest terms. Should the rogue elements' espionage driven agenda turn out to be true the workers of this country, black and white united must stop production and drive out the criminal mafia from power,” he added.
The DA also vowed to fight against the capture of the PIC, Deputy Finance Minister Sifiso Buthelezi, who is also chairperson of the PIC, needed to protect the integrity of the institution.
“We cannot sit back and allow President Jacob Zuma, and his number one clients, the Guptas, to get their hands on the R1.8 trillion under the management of the PIC,” DA shadow minister of finance David Maynier said.