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By Citizen Reporter


Numsa rejects reports of factional battles over 3Sixty Life curatorship

Numsa Investment Corporation-owed 3Sixty Life curatorship has revealed political tension within the country's largest union.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has dismissed media reports of tension and factional battles within the union emanating from the curatorship of one of its companies.

This week, GroundUp and amaBhungane published stories based on-court action by the Reserve Bank’s Prudential Authority to place Numsa Investment Corporation (NIC) – owned life insurance company 3Sixty Life, under curatorship.

The PA is accusing 3Sixty Life of mismanagement, and is using several complaints before the insurance ombudsman to substantiate its reasons for placing the company under curatorship back in December.

Ground Up and amaBhungane reported the issue of the curatorship had divided the union ahead of its elective conference in June.

Some Numsa members feel the union’s General-Secretary Irvin Jim and NIC CEO Khandani Msibi are not acting in the interest of members who are 3Sixty Life policyholders.

Numsa singled out the journalists behind the stories, GroundUp’s James Stent and amaBungane’s Micah Reddy, for creating the impression that the court process had been finalised.

The case of curatorship

“This is an ongoing matter. As recently as yesterday (Thursday), a finding was made by the High Court dismissing the application to remove the interim curator Yashoda Ram,” said Numsa.

“If GroundUp and amaBhungane want us to believe that their reporting is balanced and objective, then they should have also included the fact that a preliminary report published by Yashoda Ram the interim curator, suggests that the Prudential Authority may have “acted irrationally” when it placed 3Sixty Life under provisional curatorship,” the union added.

While there is no mention of Ram in the GroundUp article, amaBhungane reports the PA applied to have Ram removed from the curatorship because she allegedly misrepresented her qualifications.

“Ram was subsequently suspended by her employer, BDO, but has nevertheless delivered an interim report on the provisional curatorship, with a bold disclaimer that “the opinions of experts from BDO with respect to technical accounting and tax-related matters have not been included,” amaBhungane reported. 

Meanwhile, the PA’s candidate to replace Ram, actuary Tinashe Mashoko, says in a confirmatory affidavit that “I attended a meeting on 29 January 2022, during which Ms Ram confirmed that the business of 3Sixty had been mismanaged”. 

“They deliberately did not mention this. Was it an honest mistake or a factional attempt to cause panic amongst Numsa members and unfairly discredit the union leadership, with the elective congress around the corner?” Numsa asked in the statement dismissing the reports.

Numsa accuses media houses of sowing divisions 

amaBhungane’s report alleges that Jim and Msibi’s application against 3Sixty Life’s curatorship has created political tension within the union ahead of its June elective conference.

The report says some union members feel as though Jim’s court affidavit was not in the best interest of Numsa members who are 3Sixty policyholders, and stand to be the biggest losers if the company is liquidated. 

“We also reject the political insinuation that comrade Irvin Jim was elected to the position of Numsa General Secretary because of his relationship with the CEO of the Numsa Investment Company ,(NIC) Mr Khandani Msibi. 

“How insulting to Numsa members who consciously participated in democratic processes to elect the leadership,” reads the union’s statement.

“This claim is absurd in the extreme because Mr Msibi was appointed after the Numsa general secretary comrade Irvin Jim was elected in 2008,” it added.

Jim was elected in October 2008, while NIC’s website says that Msibi joined the corporation toward the end of 2008.

The union also alleges there is a ‘deliberate smear campaign’, led by the union’s ‘enemies’, who are determined to distract the union and its leadership from doing the important work of serving members and fighting battles on their behalf. 

“There is also a very clear attempt to isolate the general secretary, and make it seem as if he is involved in the direct running of the investment arm, or, that he as an individual is somehow solely responsible for the state of 3Sixty investments – how absurd!”

Numsa’s statement however does not confirm or deny reports that a Deloitte report found the union had been using 3Sixty Life to make payments with no commercial value to the company. 

The PA had appointed Deloitte to investigate because they were concerned about the movement of funds between 3Sixty Life and other companies in the 3Sixty group – so-called “intra-group transactions”

According to the Deloitte report, the company’s 2018 operating expenses audited financial statements show that  3Sixty Life listed R20 million in sponsorship expenses. One line item is “Numsa support”, worth R358 000.

This Numsa support included:

  • R15 578 for laptop for Irvin Jim’s daughter;
  • R40 430 for Irvin Jim’s birthday party;
  • R114 425 for a Numsa gala dinner;
  • R10 000 to cover transport costs, purportedly for a Numsa delegation visit to the 3Sixty Life offices; and
  • R48 300 for a two-day event for Numsa’s Wits region branch.

Allegations of intimidation of a Numsa office-bearer

Numsa said it was informed by its National Treasurer Mphumzi Maqungo that the second Deputy President Comrade, Ruth Ntlokotse, is allegedly receiving threats, and that she wanted to keep that information confidential.

“The national office bearers of the union acted out of concern for her and took steps to ensure that she is safe,” said Numsa.

“We are extremely shocked to learn that according to the divisive article written by amaBhungane, the alleged threats to the President are linked to the fact that she expressed a different opinion on the curatorship of 3Sixty,” it added.

Compiled by Narissa Subramoney

NOW READ: Political tensions brewing around Numsa Investment Company, Irvin Jim

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