Apartheid workers’ unpaid pension funds still a source of contention

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The consolidation of the pension funds of former employees from the then Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei (TBVC) homelands and those of former apartheid South Africa employees remain an unresolved dilemma.

General Bantu Holomisa, former Transkei and current leader of the United Democratic Movement, says the merger created the largest pension fund on the continent, covering more than 450 000 pensioners and beneficiaries with assets in excess of R2.2 trillion.

It has been nearly 30 years under the new democratic dispensation, but pensioners in the former TBVC states have been pleading with authorities to pay them what they owe because they have not been able to enjoy the fruits of their labour.

“It’s a disgrace because we are old, if you can get into the hall you will see that people are old. They are sick, they are dying leaving their monies behind. Now it’s gonna be thirty years since the new government, but it has done nothing. We are really frustrated and angry”  says former Transkei Civil Deputy Chairperson, Nthofela Tinini.

Retired government employee Steven Sass says they are being discriminated against.

“We were discriminated against by the apartheid government and we were excluded by the present government. Thousands of people … There were 500 000 pensioners, only 157 000 knew and applied, and only 54 000 people were paid out. Thousands of pensioners were again excluded by our present government.”

The issue has been thrust under the microscope by former Transkei leader Bantu Holomisa who also took it to Parliament.

“The GEPF formed something called Public Investment Company. That is where the monies of these civil servants were taken to. So the government is duty-bound to pay back that money. The PIC was used as a piggy bank for the comrades who wanted to be involved in the business. But the amount of money which has been written off there, tells you that this was a cash cow for certain comrades.”

Unresolved issues

Another unresolved point of contention is the unequal treatment of statutory and non-statutory military forces following the consolidation of the TBVC, SADF and liberation struggle forces.

Former TDF Military Veterans Chairperson, Bhongo Ndamase says, “Some people died, their relatives are distressed, some of them are sick, nobody is attending to them. We are promised this today, tomorrow is another story.”

The Spokesperson for Treasury, Mfuneko Toyana, says Finance Minister, Enoch Godongwana, is considering a formal process, including the possible formation of a task team of experts to look into the pension issue.
Toyana says the Minister will announce further details about the panel once it’s finalised.