The Democratic Alliance (DA) has said it will do everything in its power to stop the government from using pension funds to save Eskom – even if it means going to the Constitutional Court.
In a statement on Wednesday, DA Chief Whip Natasha Mazzone said it is unconscionable for President Cyril Ramaphosa to “pander to the ideas of trade unions to flush pension funds down an endless hole of debt.”
Speaking at a question-and-answer session with the South National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) on Tuesday in Cape Town, Ramaphosa said pension funds shouldn’t be “fearful” of Eskom.
Plans are ‘irrational, immoral’
He said, “Pension funds shouldn’t be too fearful; we’ve got an Eskom journey ahead. We also want the private sector to put their money in Eskom. We need to build up confidence.”
Labour federation COSATU has tabled a proposal at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) for the Government Employees Pension Fund, through the Public Investments Corporation (PIC), to take over R250 billion of Eskom’s R450 billion debt.
However, Mazzone said the DA is consulting its lawyers to stop the African National Congress’ (ANC) “irrational and immoral” plans.
She asked, “Why should hardworking South Africans lose a lifetime worth of savings to save a sinking ship?”
‘DA will not stand for it’
Mazzone added, “Why is President Ramaphosa set on condemning hundreds of thousands of South Africans to poverty by having Eskom swallow up their pension funds?
“The DA cannot in good conscience sit back and watch as the ANC places the whims and wills of factions and trade unions ahead of the interests and futures of ordinary South Africans. We will not stand for it.”
During his session with SANEF, Ramaphosa sought to assure “worried” South Africans that Eskom is being “revamped” and will be a “non-corrupt” entity.
He also cited the policy of prescribed assets that was implemented during apartheid, saying pension funds at the time had to invest 10% of their funds into government projects.
The President said, “Where is the money in our country? In our pension funds. The Reserve Bank estimates [that] there are over R8 trillion in pension funds.
“Imagine if 10% of that went into alternative investments – that’s R800 billion for Eskom and water projects.”