When a poor family must pawn its possessions to pay down debt we call it a tragedy. When a man cashes in his pension early we call it a pity or irresponsible. But when Cosatu proposes the same with the Public Investment Corporation’s (PIC) managed pension funds, we call it a social investment and applaud it.

Cosatu, it should be recalled, was complicit at many levels in the ravaging of Eskom. Now it makes anti-privatisation and crony employment demands, which caused the problem in the first place. There is a name for those who repeat their actions but expect a different result — they are mad.

In 20 years, R250bn will be worth R1-trillion. For Cosatu to say to its members that because their benefits are defined they will not be affected is to forget future generations. The spending of other people’s money, apparently even unborn children’s money, has an honoured place on the socialist agenda.

We may call this a zero-coupon bond. Cosatu will want it listed as a pension fund asset. But an asset whose recoverability is doubtful and certain to offer zero yield is no investment. It would take a Steinhoff to call it so.

Barry Hay
Parktown North

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