COSATU presented its submission on the General Laws Amendment (Money Laundering and Combatting Terrorism Financing) Bill to Parliament on Wednesday, 23 November 2022

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and its Affiliate, SACTWU, presented their submission on the General Laws Amendment (GLA) (Money Laundering and Combatting Terrorism Financing) Bill to Parliament’s Select Committee: Finance’s hearings on Wednesday, 23 November 2022. 

COSATU and SACTWU welcome the tabling of the GLA Bill as a long overdue response by government to address gaps in our legislation dealing with corruption, money laundering and the financing of terrorism. We hope that the provisions of the Bill will address these loopholes and further empower the state to deal with these criminal scourges.

Workers have felt the pain and real consequences of state capture, corruption, money laundering and the financing of terrorism.  These cancers have bled the fiscus of billions of Rands. It has resulted in public servants being denied their increases, SOE employees retrenched, municipal workers unpaid, public services deteriorating and the economy suffocating from load shedding and austerity budget cuts. 

The nation cannot afford the risks of grey listing which will discourage, and in many instances, prohibit badly needed investments in an economy still struggling to recover from a devastating recession, a global pandemic, the July 2021 violence, the 2022 floods and rising inflation. 

COSATU and SACTWU agree with the need for Parliament to pass the Bill as a matter of urgency to avoid the possible of grey listing and the subsequent impact on jobs and investments. However Parliament needs to hold Treasury accountable and in fact all other departments who time and again delay drafting and tabling critical bills and then place inordinate pressure on Parliament and undermine the space for public participation.  At times progressive bills cannot be passed into law because of this tardiness and a complete lack of urgency by departments and absentee Ministries.

COSATU and SACTWU welcome the Bill’s provisions strengthening the roles, responsibilities and powers of the Financial Intelligence Centre, the Auditor General and the South African Revenue Service. Provisions requiring transparency and accountability from financial institutions are welcome as well as further clarifications on the domestic and foreign politically exposed and influential persons. 

Whilst COSATU and SACTWU support the progressive objectives of the Bill, we were deeply concerned that the Bill did not go far enough to require full and public transparency of beneficial ownership of companies and trusts. We however appreciate the subsequent amendments made to the Bill by the National Assembly and Treasury’s commitments to provide additional provisions in the Bill’s Regulations to address COSATU’s concerns.

More needs to be done to enhance the Bill, in particular through Regulations and through implementation, to ensure that not only are companies required to disclose ownership and shareholding, but also that such information must be publicly and easily accessible through the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, the Masters of the High Courts’ Offices and other relevant registries and platforms.  If we are to overcome corruption and state capture, then we must build a society founded upon transparency, more so when it involves workers’ pension fund investments, wages and jobs.

It is critical that Parliament not only pass this critical Bill but also strengthen it.  It is equally critical for Treasury to do likewise through the subsequent Regulations.  These are critical if the Bill is to meet its full objectives. Government needs to ensure that when it comes into effect, that the relevant state organs are adequately resourced, trained and capacitated to effect its full implementation. We cannot afford a repeat of the Sexual Offenders Register which was left unpopulated, under resourced and unimplemented. 

Issued by COSATU

For further information please contact:
Matthew Parks-COSATU Parliamentary Coordinator
082 7850 687