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Plan to force pension funds to invest in SOEs is theft, says DA

Lawmakers debated the issue in the National Assembly on Tuesday. While most opposition parties slammed the idea, both the ANC and the EFF backed it.

The National Assembly of South Africa on 22 May 2019. Picture: @GovernmentZA/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - Plans to compel pension funds, both public and private, to invest in state-owned entities and government bonds would amount to stealing from pensioners, Parliament's been told.

The ANC’s 2019 election manifesto promised to explore a regime of prescribed assets, a similar policy to that imposed by the National Party during apartheid.

Lawmakers debated the issue in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

While most opposition parties slammed the idea, both the ANC and the EFF backed it.

DA finance spokesperson Geordin Hill-Lewis told the House that the ANC’s mishandling of the economy had reduced it to “copying the desperate policies of a failing apartheid government”.

“Let’s cut the nonsense and call it what it is: pension theft. This government is proposing to steal from the pensions of hard-working South Africans to pay for their mismanagement.”

Hill-Lewis questioned Cosatu’s cautious support for the move as well as that of some asset managers, saying the DA would fight it.

The ANC’s Phoebe Abraham insisted the ANC was not being reckless but said the economy wasn’t performing and it had to find solutions. She said prescribed assets were in force under apartheid between 1956 and 1989 and spawned many enterprises, including SAA and Denel.

“These enterprises did not only support the economy and provide jobs, but they also provided generous benefits, such as training, subsidised housing and employee benefits.”

Abraham said the policy helped end unemployment and poverty among white Afrikaners, although the majority did not benefit.

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