VHAVENDA King Toni Mphephu Ramabulana has reassured community members that he will engage with the government over the release of their money from the erstwhile Venda Pension Fund.
This follows two decades of constant deadlocks over the release of funds to beneficiaries. Speaking to African Times, the king’spokesperson Jackson Mafunzwaini said: “The settlement of the Pension Fund has long been overdue because if you remember we had conducted our investigations into the matter to an extent that we proceeded to write to the Public Protector office for intervention. That is when we received the Public Protector’s report which assured us that the Treasury would settle the matter.”
Mafunzwaini said that the king was confident that the Treasury would be able to trace rightful beneficiaries despite the number threatening to outweigh the initial records.: “The department has the records of beneficiaries in their possession, so it is not a matter of it being difficult to trace them. So, we are waiting on Parliament to tell us what they are going to do because the Minister of Finance is also busy with that.
“They were supposed to have finalized this matter on the 16th of December. The king is surely concerned about the matter because we should understand that all of the people that are involved in this are his subjects, so he wants them to be paid.”
He also emphasized that they do not blame the constant changes of ministers as a delay factor as the Public Protector’s report still stand: “We don’t want to speculate on the causes of this delay because it should also be brought into account that this is a Public Protectors report which is a remedial action. So, it will stay as such despite who the next finance minister is.”
An estimated 24 000 beneficiaries are still to receive their outstanding pay-outs as per the agreement with the former Bantustan government in the 1990’s. The fund was initially made up of money deducted from workers’ salaries with the aim of investments in domestic banks and offshore accounts by the Bantustan government.
In response to African Times enquiries, the National Treasury stated: “The National Treasury and the Government Pensions Administration Agency (GPAA) have been working persistently to address the remedial action contained in the Report of the Public Protector regarding the Venda Pension Fund matter. The GPAA embarked on a process of reviewing available data to ensure that the project is implemented accurately. We also enlisted the services of an actuary to establish a reliable database of potential beneficiaries of the proposed remedial action.”
The department blamed the verification of beneficiaries’ particulars as a major cause of delays stating that “the establishment of a reliable database and the verification of records are most important and yet extremely complex aspects of the project.
Records and other information of claimants have been provided to the appointed actuaries to evaluate whether there is any potential prejudice and/or loss.”
Treasury also said that it became clear to them that they needed more time to ensure that the remedial action is implemented accurately and that all affected parties were satisfied with the efforts and the outcomes.
“We are cognizant that the project has taken long to conclude and, therefore, it is our obligation to avoid any margin of error as much as possible to ensure that all of the parties affected by this process are satisfied.
“Consequently, based on advice from the technical team, the National Treasury has agreed to allow the actuaries more time to complete the review process.”
“The Speaker of the National Assembly and the Office of the Public Protector have been kept abreast of progress made in the matter.
“The National Treasury has accordingly, formally advised the Public Protector and the Speaker of the National Assembly of the need to extend the period to complete the evaluation.
“The National Treasury remains committed to finalizing the implementation of the remedial action where practically possible, within reason,” said the National Treasury.