Issue: December 2012 / February 2013


A month before Mangaung sees Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi having a full go at National Treasury. Amongst other broadsides, he accuses it of “counter-productive interventions” that excluded organised labour from the consultation process “apart from the recent minimal and superficial engagement on the retirement reform papers”.

But the papers were published for discussion precisely to encourage the widest possible consultation, with Cosatu like everybody else. Far from “an insult to workers”, Vavi should ask them whether they’d prefer more money or less when they retire.

Let him explain to them the consequences of prescribed assets, which he wants, and mandatory preservation, which he doesn’t. Or explain to the rest of us how many more dependents on social security the state can afford.

Six years ago, Sanlam paid R106m to curators of a ‘surplus stripped’ pension fund in the hope that that the money “would quickly reach pensioners in need”. Over two years ago, to effect similar settlements in respect of various so-called ‘Ghavalas funds’, Alexander Forbes paid R348m and Sanlam a further R333m.

Altogether, according to a Personal Finance report in March 2011, about 15 500 pensioners and members of seven stripped pension funds would be paid out R730m within six months. Curator Tony Mostert said that he’d recovered R953m.

In October, 19 months later, the FSB announced that it had approved surplus distributions for eight funds. Their assets total R400m, their liabilities R176m, their reserves R34m and their surpluses at their surplus-apportionment dates R190m.

Something seems not to add up; neither the money amounts nor the number of pensioners amongst the 15 500 who’re still alive and traceable almost two decades after the strips.

Recently to hand is a report, from earlier this year, that Swaziland’s regulator had withdrawn the licence of Akani to operate as an administrator of retirement funds.

Akani has a sizable SA presence. In fact, it claims to be “one of the biggest 100% black-owned retirement fund administrators with no backing of monopoly capital”. In August, after a four-year investigation, the FSB cleared it of maladministration allegations concerning the Municipal Councillors Pension Fund.

MD of Akani is Zamani Letjane, who happens also to be IRF president. Numerous attempts by TT to contact him, for an update on the Swaziland situation, were unsuccessful.

At roughly the same time, it seems, three separate legal actions against NBC are out of the starter’s block. They’ve been respectively launched by retirement funds of Pep, Rainbow and the PSSPF. But they’ll be decided by arbitration, not in open court. Which means that the papers are confidential, hearings are private and rulings withheld from the public.

This is unsatisfactory, at the least for trustees of pension funds considering selection of service providers. The FSB should insist that they disclose all legal proceedings – launched, pending and resolved -- for a period of say five years prior applications for appointment.

Suddenly there’s outrage over “compound” as racism. Bang goes the best way of earning interest.