The Congress of South African Trade Unions has learned with disgust that GEPF’s R4, 3 billion investments in Steinhoff has been written off as worthless. This is happening because the so called “accounting scandal” by the Steinhoff fraudsters and criminals wiped off over R200bn of the company’s value.
This means that workers have lost a portion of their retirement savings, while these criminals are not being held accountable. What is more disturbing is the indifference of law enforcement agencies that are not willing to hold the Steinhoff criminals accountable. Its unacceptable for these mostly white criminals to be allowed to gamble with workers savings, loot the money without any consequences or accountability. The furore and indignation that has surrounded mostly black criminals that have looted companies like VBS is absent when it comes to white looters and criminals.
The federation is reiterating its call for the prosecution of the Steinhoff criminals and looters that have been allowed to hide and sell their ill-gotten gains with impunity.
The biggest problem we currently face as a country is that we are not consistent in our fight against corruption. If we are going to fight corruption successfully we cannot afford to condemn some corrupt actions and make excuses for others. Our propensity to treat public and private sector corruption differently is a big problem for this country.
In South Africa, we have Alliance capitalism, where big companies collude and act like cartels but they are only charged 10% of their profits and we all move on. Poor people with nothing to eat are prosecuted in this country for stealing a loaf of bread while big institutions are treated with kid gloves except to pay the levy and recover the penalty through charging the consumer at a later stage. The 10% turnover which constitutes the maximum penalty that can be imposed by the Competition Tribunal is inadequate to act as a deterrent, as banks have high profits and they can pass these penalties to bank customers through high service fees and interest rates.
Corruption in the private sector has got higher implications because of its ability to affect the whole economy and to bring the economy to its knees.
In this continent, daily, money is being taken out of the country by multinationals through base erosion and profit shifting and the rich take their wealth to offshore trusts without any consequences.
We look forward to Parliament’s pending adoption of the Competition Amendment Bill. We believe that it will be a key weapon, if enforced by the Competition Tribunal and government, to deal with monopoly behaviour and collusion.
We urge Parliament to move with equal speed to pass the PIC Amendment Bill to bring transparency and accountability to the PIC and how it operates and invests. This will also hopefully provide a clear investment mandate to protect workers’ hard earned pension and insurance money and grow the economy. It will also provide for oversight by workers to how their money is managed.
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794