The following speech was delivered in Parliament’s Debate on Prescribed Assets today.
I am always amazed at the way the ANC is able to couch its most extreme policies in code words. After all, this very ANC told us that a swimming pool constructed for the private use of the ex-President was a “fire pool”. In fact, this attempted cover-up has no damage to the political careers of those involved. Minister Firepool is now the Minister of Labour. The ANC’s capacity for political irony knows few limits.
But the code word of the moment is prescribed assets. You will not call it what it is, you want it to have an innocuous name. What you really mean is the theft of pension funds – the very money that people retire on in the hopes they can sustain themselves and cover their costs in their golden years. And you are engaging in the ransacking of pension funds in order to undo the damage your party in government has done to the country’s finances and the damage you have wrought onto state-owned enterprises.
Today, Eskom produces less electricity than it did a decade ago, but this ANC wants to raid pension funds to bail out its corrupt procurement practices, its bloated staff structure and its perpetual payment of management bonuses. The next time an ANC MP canvasses a schoolteacher about to retire, please admit that you’re taking their pension fund because you paid excessive bonuses to the executives who looted our SOES.
Today, SAA runs fewer routes and flights than ever before, including busy and profitable routes like Johannesburg to London and Johannesburg to Cape Town, but is in need of a bailout. The next time an ANC MP canvasses a police officer about to retire, please admit that you are taking his or her pension because you appointed Dudu Myeni to destroy SAA.
Today, the SABC generates less revenue than ever before because the ANC allowed Hlaudi with a chance of meatballs to destroy it. The next time an ANC MP speaks to a nurse about to retire, please admit to him or her that you are raiding their pension fund because of your mismanagement of the SABC.
Legalizing the theft of pension funds should not even be on the table. Some fund managers are supporting the idea on Twitter knowing full well that it won’t affect their own wealth, but it could mean retirees will have to go with one less loaf of bread. It is an indictment on these managers that they cower before the ANC rather than pursue alternatives. And to my fellow South Africans – if your retirement funding is with a manager who says that prescribed assets are okay, vote with your feet and move your funds to managers who care about your ability to live a dignified life in your old age.
There is an alternative solution to shoring up the financial position of the country – its called growth. ANC MPs might be familiar with the idea of growth – the party did put up posters, billboards and run advertisements saying ‘let’s grow South Africa together.’ That was the ANC’s overarching promise. Growth will lead to more tax revenue that will quench the ANC’s insatiable thirst for spending other people’s money. Growth will allow enough revenue to sort our SOE and government debt. Growth, most importantly, will pull millions of people out of poverty and reduce the burden on government services.
Legalising the theft of pension funds is not the only way out of the mess the ANC has created. National Treasury has proposed a growth-orientated economic strategy document. With a handful of tweaks, it proposes a blueprint to do what the ANC promised – grow South Africa. It’s such a pity the ANC benches and Luthuli House is filled with enemies of growth. After a lost decade, the pursuit of growth sits at the core of solving a myriad of South Africa’s problems. Growth can restore people’s dignity through jobs. Growth can restore the health of the fiscus.
So to the ANC, I say, don’t steal pension funds, just do what you promised – Grow South Africa.