Probe into PIC’s involvement with new SAA owners
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Johannesburg - The use of government workers in the controversial SAA sale is to be investigated by a task team comprising several public service unions.
The Star understands that unions met last week to embark on a fact-finding mission on how the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) became involved with Takatso consortium which owns a significant stake of the national carrier.
A spokesperson for the Public Servants Association (PSA), Reuben Maleka, said the task team was formed after unions failed to get a reasonable explanation from the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) on the PIC’s involvement with Takatso consortium.
The PIC, which manages public servant pensions, confirmed that it owned 30% of Harith General Partners, an infrastructure investment group that is part of a consortium which will now own the majority stake in SAA.
A few days ago, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan announced that the Takatso consortium of Harith General Partners and Global Aviation would have a 51% stake in SAA, with the state retaining 49%. The PIC oversees over R2 trillion, mostly from the GEPF.
“We have agreed that the Public Service Bargaining Council would form a task team together with the Government Employees Pension Fund to find out the process that involved Takatso, Harith and PIC. They cannot deny that PIC is going to be involved in Takatso,” Maleka said.
The task team, he added, would draw up its terms of reference this week. He said the task team (would) comprise various unions in the public sector.
“We want results as soon as possible; the task team comprises unions and the employer. We formed the task team because we were not convinced of what the GEPF was saying,” Maleka said.
Public servants were concerned whether they would get returns on the investment into SAA, which has received numerous government bailouts, but continued to suffer financial losses. Maleka said government workers wanted to see responsible actions from the PIC in relation to public money.
“As the owners of the money, they would be upset that instead of the money being used to get them housing, it has been used to benefit a few.”
Maleka said he was disturbed that the PIC had not contacted unions to explain the involvement of public servants’ pensions in the SAA deal.
Meanwhile, Maleka said the PSA was considering delaying the planned public service strike that was on the cards because of a breakdown in wage talks between some unions and government. He said the union was still in the process of balloting for a strike, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic, under the current circumstances a strike would be difficult.