Cosatu ups ante on PIC ‘capture’
The federation floats the idea of stripping the finance ministry of unilateral powers to appoint members to the Public Investment Corporation board
Cosatu is calling for a moratorium to prevent the use of Public Investment Corporation (PIC) funds to finance any government institution.
It said on Tuesday that it would also explore the possibility of "depoliticising" the PIC by stripping the finance ministry of the powers to unilaterally appoint board members of the fund manager.
The federation said it had requested an urgent meeting with Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba to express its "grave concern" on reports that the "Gupta network" was trying to lay its "grubby hands" on workers’ retirement savings at the PIC.
"We are also concerned to learn that Gigaba is going ahead with his attempts to use workers’ retirement savings to bail out the captured state-owned enterprises," said Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali.
The federation said it would not allow the PIC to be "looted" the same way that Eskom and other state-owned enterprises had been.
Ntshalintshali said those guilty of looting state-owned enterprises first had to be arrested and prosecuted before workers’ savings were used to invest in such companies.
Cosatu spokesman Sizwe Pamla told Business Day that the federation would deploy all its might to protect the PIC and would insist on its depoliticisation, even if there was a change of leadership in the government if its ideal candidate for the ANC presidency, Cyril Ramaphosa, emerged victorious at the party’s conference in December.
The looting of public institutions has been linked to President Jacob Zuma’s administration, with the South African Communist Party’s (SACP’s) deputy general secretary, Solly Mapaila, describing it as an "elite predator".
Cosatu is preparing to embark on a mass protest against state capture and corruption in 10 major cities across the country on Wednesday, estimating that 100,000 workers would be joining its marches to government offices and state-owned companies.
Mapaila has described the protests as "different" and significant because "nothing would be the same thereafter".
He said that along with Cosatu, the party would embark on rolling mass action until they defeated the "elite", going as far as to say the SACP expected all its members and leaders deployed to the government as ministers and MECs to be on the frontlines of the marches.
"This is not just another march.... It signifies an important moment where organised labour has come out much more clearly to express its disdain and disgust with those stealing from our state and national resources for their friends and families at the expense of the majority of our people," he said.
Cosatu has also revived its call for a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture, saying it would "unearth the extent of this rot", in reference to mass corruption. "There must be a process to identify all those involved in state capture and they all need to be blacklisted. The Asset Forfeiture Unit must seize the assets of those who are found guilty," said Ntshalintshali.