Solidarity's Dirk Hermann. Picture: DESIREE SWART
Solidarity's Dirk Hermann. Picture: DESIREE SWART

Trade union Solidarity plans to launch a tax protest campaign against state owned enterprises and what it calls "tax plunderers".

Solidarity COO Dirk Hermann said in a statement on Sunday that it was "time that taxpayers turn to active and lawful tax protest. SA must discover the power of tax activism. We’ve already had a taste of it with the e-toll protest.

"Tax protest does not have to include the withholding of tax. Taxpayers can unite across traditional barriers, making use of legal instruments to call the state and tax plunderers to account.”

According to Hermann, taxpayers underestimate their power.  Solidarity plans to mobilise thousands of taxpayers to get involved with the tax protest and to collect millions of rands through crowd funding.

SAA, Denel action 

The series of planned actions would include an application for cash-strapped state owned airline SAA to be placed under business rescue. Herman said Solidarity wanted to bring the same case against SAA about a year ago, but SAA’s former CEO, Vuyani Jarana made several promises to the trade union and it desisted.

"These promises have not been met and Jarana has left. We must protect sustainable work at SAA. We saw at Denel what happens to employees if the wait on a business rescue application is too long," Herman said.

He said this would be the first time that a business rescue application was brought against a state-owned enterprise and was one of the most drastic actions taxpayers could take to protect their tax money. "The work of our members and taxpayers’ money in SAA is too valuable to allow the airline to crash down,” said Hermann.

Solidarity would also serve urgent court papers on struggling state-owned arms manufacturer Denel to force it to pay the state the unemployment insurance and tax contributions it has deducted from employees.

Solidarity said it had also started a process in terms of section 165 of the Companies Act to have mismanagement and corruption perpetrated by former Denel directors investigated with a view to their possible prosecution.

 "A similar section 165 process will be followed in collaboration with (business organization) Sakeliga in respect of Eskom. This may have major implications for former Eskom directors such as (former Eskom CEO) Brian Molefe. Similar applications against other directors at other state-owned enterprises may follow," head of Solidarity Research Institute Connie Mulder said.

 "Solidarity will also request advocate Gerrie Nel of AfriForum’s private prosecution unit to institute a private prosecution process against Molefe. This comes after the National Prosecuting Authority has not yet taken any steps against Molefe following Solidarity’s fraud charges against him."

Mulder said Solidarity and Molefe would also soon meet in the Constitutional Court about monies he said were owed to Solidarity after the court found in its favour that Molefe had unlawfully enriched himself from Eskom’s pension fund.