Issue: September 2012 / November 2012


The tragedy at Marikana illustrates that the new SAPS is not entirely unlike old SAP. The difference is that the latter had a forthright champion in John Vorster.

When he was Minister of Police, he was asked in Parliament why the SAP had used live ammunition instead of rubber bullets to quell a riot. In his dour manner, Vorster bluntly responded: “When they throw us with rubber stones, we’ll shoot them with rubber bullets.”

He’d be a proud man today.

Blade Nzimande, cabinet minister and SA Communist Party general secretary, wants to “intensify the struggle for workers to make sure they have an effective say over the investment of their pension and provident funds”.

No need to struggle, Blade. All you need do is get them to exercise the rights they already have.

You can’t blame members of the seven ‘Ghavalas option’ pension funds from wondering when the money recovered for them will ever reach them:

After a wait of more than 15 years, about 15 500 pensioners and members of seven pension funds, whose surpluses were stripped by employers in the early 1990s, will be paid out a total of R730m within the next six months.

  • Personal Finance, March 20 2011.

The seven funds are those of Lucas SA, Prestolite, Picbel, Sable Industries, Cortech and two of the Datakor group.

Payments to stakeholders of the above-mentioned funds are expected to commence shortly.

  • Financial Services Board press release, July 9 2012.

Hopefully, while some of the 15 500 are still alive.

The FSB, according to legal advisor Louis Wessels, will consider a review of the process by which curators are remunerated. To be helpful, here’s a modest suggestion.

It’s that, when curators are remunerated on a contingency basis, they get their fees not when the assets are recovered but when they get into the hands of intended recipients – and as a percentage only of what the beneficiaries actually get.

This will considerably downsize the fees, making them proportionate to payments rather than recoveries, and diminish the prospect of fees outweighing payments. At most, stipends can be allowed the curators during the process.

It will also remedy a situation that seems inherently wrong, where curators are paid fees for recoveries that land in the Unclaimed Benefits Fund. When beneficiaries cannot be traced, because the process has taken so long, the probability is that this will happen on an untenable scale. The curators make mega-millions while many thousands of beneficiaries never see a cent.

Expected was the change to the JSE listings requirements that only short-form financial notices have to be published in a daily newspaper. Less expected was the rider that it has to be in a widely circulated daily newspaper taking into account the specific composition and demographics of the issuer’s stakeholders.

That puts a whole new complexion onto things. It’s to be welcomed for making the stakeholder-communication process more inclusive, provided companies apply it and stakeholders – like trustees of pension funds – see to it that they do.