The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s signing of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) Amendment Act and its immediate enactment into law. This is long overdue. The PIC Amendment Act was drafted by Parliament’s Finance Committees in close collaboration with COSATU.
This was necessitated by the revelation of rampant looting and the mismanagement of PIC funds by many in the PIC and those companies who have benefited from its investments and loans. The Amendment Act was critical as the existing law gave the Minister power in appointing the PIC Board as well as to issue any instruction to it. The PIC Commission of Enquiry exposed the massive absence of checks and balances on the then PIC Chief Executive Officer.
The PIC Amendment Act will be a critical tool in the fight against corruption, state, and corporate capture. Key progressive provisions of the PIC Amendment Act include:
· Appointing 3 representatives selected by organised labour in the Public Service Collective Bargaining Council.
o This will help ensure workers have oversight and a say in how their hard-earned funds are invested.
o This is the first time that workers are represented on the PIC Board in its history.
o All Board members must have the relevant skills and expertise to contribute towards the PIC’s investment mandate.
· It compels the PIC to receive a mandate from its depositors on how their funds are invested.
o This will address previous situations where the former PIC management disregarded the views of the Government Employees’ Pension Fund and the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
· It guides the PIC to invest in ways that will ensure the sustainability of the depositors’ funds and to support job creation, industrial development, export growth, sustainable development and investments that will boost South Africa’s economy.
o This is necessary to halt investments in the past which simply made no economic sense and that provided get-rich quick schemes for a well-connected elite.
· Provides clear reporting requirements on all investments by the PIC, both listed and unlisted, to its depositors, Treasury, Parliament and the public.
o At over R2.1 trillion in assets, the PIC is the largest investment fund in the continent. Maximum transparency and accountability are crucial to halt dubious investments and prevent looting.
Whilst there is no silver bullet in the fight against corruption, the PIC Amendment Act will be a critical tool in the hands of workers, Parliament, and the public. It will help ensure that workers’ monies are invested to protect workers’ hard-earned pensions. It will also support job creation and economic development and not simply be used to fund the pockets of crooks through get-rich-quick schemes.
COSATU applauds the President for signing the Amendment Act into law. This happened against the backdrop of massive overt and covert resistance from some slippery elements in the political landscape. Some were inside the PIC and some in the private sector and government; they could not hide their irritation at this bold intervention to restore order and good governance to the PIC.
Government must rest assured that COSATU will resist any future attempt to introduce legislation removing these progressive provisions from the PIC Amendment Act.
The Federation salutes the tireless efforts of the members of the ANC Caucus, including then Chairpersons of Parliament’s Finance Committees, Cdes. Yunus Carrim and Charl De Beer, as well as the then Chief Whips of Parliament, our late Cde. Jackson Mthembu and Seiso Mohai. These Members of Parliament were dedicated allies of workers in the drafting and passage of one of the most progressive and pro-worker laws since the advent of democracy. Without their principled stance and willingness to stand up to very powerful interests, this Act would never have been passed into law.
Issued by COSATU.
For comment, please contact Matthew Parks- COSATU Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687