By Phapano Phasha
Between 1996 and 2005 Trevor Manual, in his capacity as Finance Minister, was the sole trustee and custodian of the Government Employee Pension Fund (GEPF) which at the time of inception had assets close to R200 billion. As a sole trustee of GEPF, Mr Trevor Manual did not report or account to anyone but himself. To this end there was no board or governance and therefore Mr Manual had the sole discretion of how employees pension funds would be invested.
However, in 2002 a tender for actuarial services was advertised and eventually awarded to Alexander Forbes by Trevor Manual in his capacity as the sole trustee of GEPF, which was now worth over R250 billion. Alexander Forbes then proceeded to sell 30% of its shares to an empowerment group that was called Millennium Consolidated Investments (MCI) which was incorporated in 2001, being a year before the invitation to tender came out. This company belonged to the current President of the African National Congress (ANC) and South Africa (SA), Cyril Ramaphosa.
Before ‘buying’ 30% of the Alexander Forbes shares and thus getting first hand access to the funds of the GEPF, President Ramaphosa was just another Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) proxy from the governing party who subsequently managed to buy more than 27 companies post 2003 which turned him into an instant billionaire. To strengthen the arguement, according to a 2006 article by the Mail & Guardian titled ‘Anatomy of Fast Money’, the sudden wealth which was concentrated amongst a few new colonial elites, like President Ramaphosa, was not due to hard work but to connections to the ANC, patronage and friends in government which in turn led to some of the following acquisitions by President Ramaphosa:
April 2003: 16% of Alexander Forbes, now worth R1,1-billion.
July 2003: 14,4% of Bidvest, worth R706-million.
July 2004: 1,2% of Standard Bank, worth R1,1-billion.
August 2004: 42% of Mondi Shanduka Newsprint and 40% of Mondi Packaging, worth about R980 million.
November 2005: 11,74% of Assore, worth R394-million
November 2005: 1,5% in Liberty Life, worth R299-million.
May 2006: 25% of Downing, Reynard and Associates (unlisted)
July 2006: 40% of Kangra Coal…Source (Mail & Guardian)
It is quite obvious to any student of geopolitics that the rise and rise of President Ramaphosa was sparked by him acquiring the shares at Alexandre Forbes. This brings me to the rationale on why President Ramaphosa must extend the terms of reference of the Commission of Inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which is the asset management company that invests funds on behalf of the GEPF.
It will be an injustice if the current terms of reference of the Commission of Inquiry into the PIC are left as they are because for more than a decade Trevor Manual was God presiding over billions in hard earned salaries of government employees whilst President Ramaphosa became Deputy God. Hence to only focus on the investment decisions taken by the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the PIC, Dan Matjila, is quite frankly opportunistic and self serving. South Africans have every right to know which companies and individuals benefitted during the tenures at the GEPF of Trevor Manual and President Ramaphosa, especially since there was no board or governance in place at that time.
Another factor is the conflict of interest regarding both President Ramaphosa and Mr Trevor Manual which necessitates an investigation to unpack if President Ramaphosa directly used his position as a shareholder at GEPF to get capital injection into his own companies and the same applies to Trevor Manual, which also falls under the ambit of state capture. This by the way is no different to the conflict of interest associated with Nhlanhla Nene who opted to resign as the Minister of Finance.
The investment decisions by both Trevor Manual and President Ramaphosa, each in their capacity as custodian of the GEPF, must also extend to the likes of Zanele Mbeki, Tokyo Sexwale, Saki Macozoma, Frank Chikane, Jay Naidoo, Kelso Gordian, Cheryl Carolus et cetera. To this end the Commission of Inquiry must assess whether they received, or legitimately received, any capital injection through GEPF. Moreover, the conduct of the likes of Johan Rupert, Christopher Wiese, Johannes Mouton, Stephen Koseff and Markus Jooste, who used the funds of the GEPF through their Asset Management companies which sub-contract with the PIC, to inject capital into their own businesses, must be inquired into.
It is therefore not surprising that the post 1994 Afrikaners, especially the Stellenbosch and Paarl gang, have become richer than they were during apartheid. Its precisely because Trevor Manual and President Ramaphosa literally handed them the pension funds of black employees without any competition from black owned asset management companies.
The PIC, which now controls trillions of pension fund money, has literally become a piggy bag for the private sector and politically connected elite who don’t have to work hard to earn their wealth – but simply abuse and misuse money that belongs to workers, many of who are living from hand to mouth. Unfortunately, unions like the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) including the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) have never been vocal on this slave trade transaction because they are part and parcel of the same private sector which has perfected monopolizing public funds to feed the private sector. This is what Dr Okechukwu C Iheduru defined as labour capitalism in a paper titled ‘Organised Labour, Globalisation and Economic Reform: union investment companies in South Africa’.
In essence state capture and exchange of capital between the blue eyed boys, the broederbond and the new colonial elite, was very systematic and structural. What is quite obvious is that this gang has been very sophisticated whilst using all sorts of treacherous and deceitful means to gain proximity to government coffers in order to empower itself and its family whilst simultaneously taxing the working class and poor who literally sustain their wealth.
uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) prisoner Soko Ndukwana defined this grouping as “looters of the Nation and Gangster Capitalists” who today have become the paragon of truth and business experts in a country which is rated as the most unequal in the world. This is precisely because state resources have been misused and abused by those using their struggle credentials to benefit a few whilst the majority, who keep them in power and who are yet to see the rays of liberation, are burdened by squalor and degradation. This is sheer state capture which has taken centuries to perfect and in its collapse, we must never allow it to use Dan Matjila as collateral damage…