Numsa’s Irvin Jim says Parliament should decide on the future of SOEs and not the courts. Picture: Siphelele Dludla
Numsa’s Irvin Jim says Parliament should decide on the future of SOEs and not the courts. Picture: Siphelele Dludla

Numsa wants ConCourt to compel Parliament to save SOEs from liquidation

By Itumeleng Mafisa Time of article published May 18, 2021

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Johannesburg - The National Union of Metal Workers of SA (Numsa) has approached the Constitutional Court to compel Parliament to save South Africa’s ailing state-owned enterprises (SOEs) from liquidation.

The union has accused the ministers of Finance Tito Mboweni and Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan of trying to bring the SOEs into liquidation.

Numsa said around 3 000 jobs had been lost at South African Airways, while at Denel at least 3 137 jobs would be on the line if the government refused to intervene to save It.

“The National Assembly must decide whether Denel or SA Express (SAX) or other any other major state-owned company (SOC) should be wound up or liquidated. Parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises and/ or Scopa (Standing Committee on Public Accounts) and ultimately the National Assembly itself, should be the ones to make the determination on whether SAX and Denel or any other major SOC should be liquidated,” said Numsa secretary general Irvin Jim.

Jim said it was not up to the courts to decide on the future of SOEs; Parliament should make a pronouncement.

“This is not something that the courts should be given the power to decide on purely from a liquidation perspective given the strategic role these companies play in the economy and the development of the country,” said Jim.

Should the entities no longer be regarded as strategic assets of the state then Parliament must pass a resolution on this and legislate accordingly, he said.

“If the decision is that these are strategic entities, then the executive must give effect to acts of Parliament and ensure that these entities are properly funded and resourced,” Jim said.

Numsa further wished to compel the portfolio committee on public enterprises and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts to hold public hearings on whether SAX or Denel, or other similarly placed SOCs, should be permitted to go insolvent, and consequently liquidated by a court.

“Workers at SOCs have paid an extremely high price for the collapse of these entities. At Denel at least two workers committed suicide because of the emotional strain of being forced to go without pay for months and with no support or relief from government whatsoever.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened as an organisation at the suffering that workers are enduring,” Jim said.

The retrenchments in some SOEs and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic had seen many workers and breadwinners suffering, and Numsa believed that despite these challenges workers at SOEs should be protected, he said.

The Star

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