South Africa’s most admired woman, Nkandla case biggest winner cum SA’s Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela is at again.
Madonsela rapidly turned into SA’s ‘messiah’ and ‘champion’ after she humbled President Zuma as regards Zuma’s initial refusal to ‘pay back the money’ spent on his homestead and ConCourt’s subsequent order for reimbursement.
Following the ground breaking victory, the Public Protector’s legal prowess endeared her to well-meaning citizens and earned her countless thumb-ups within and outside the country.
This time, the fearless public protector has ordered that payment be made to ex-government employees whose pension monies were swallowed by the amalgamation of the former Venda Pension Fund and the First Privatization Scheme before the emergence of Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF).
Madonsela came to the aid of the helpless pensioners, who were in the former bantustan after they wailed about their missing pensions on their retirement.
Venda Homeland Pensioners Aggrieved
The aggrieved pensioners disclosed that the Venda Pension Fund (VPF) failed to pay them whereas other staff members smiled home with theirs.
Some of the complainants‚ who had approached Madonsela’s office for intervention‚ had worked for government in Venda homeland for more than 20 years‚ only to forfeit their pension monies upon retirement. Information and documents provided by the complainants reflected appointment date back as far as 1950.
Madonsela found that government had “improperly” handled the privatization of the VPF.
A report released by Madonsela indicated that there was maladministration in the manner in which the fund was handled and ordered a review of the payment method. It further stated that some of the beneficiaries were prejudiced as a result of the “wrongful” actions of organs of state.
The Public Protector also noted that the payment of compensation is not a matter of charity but a requirement of justice to redress a wrong. She added that it was apparent that some of their benefits were “under-calculated” too.
Madonsela’s report reads in part, “Government’s attention is finally drawn to the fact that the complainants have suffered immensely due to maladministration by the state and the long wait for remedial action.
Many complainants are penniless‚ relying on the government’s old age grant‚ while a number of them have already passed on during the long wait for equitable access to social security.”
Meanwhile, a copy of the report from the public protector titled “Equitable access to social security,” revealed that deliberations had been held with the director-general of the National Treasury Lungisa Fuzile to foster prompt payments of the affected workers.
One the other hand, spokesman for the former Venda homeland employees, Samuel Ramuhashi, expressed their eagerness to see Madonsela’s report implemented.
“We have been made to wait for a long time. We suffered while our monies were hanging in there,” Ramuhashi said.
Last week, a group of pensioners who were protesting outside Parliament over outstanding funds were bundled out of the National Assembly arena. The protesting pensioners were forcibly pulled out by Public Order Police.
Before their pitiable ejection, the pensioners were seen across the gates on Plein Street, challenging police and Parliament to remove them. They also turned away cars and buses conveying Members of Parliament.