SA union secretary’s future in the balance

Posted on May 11, 2019


Johannesburg, May 11: The future of Dennis George, the suspended general secretary of the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) will be decided on Thursday following a two-day disciplinary hearing at the union federation’s Roodepoort headquarters that concluded yesterday. The hearing initially concerned the decision by George to establish a company to purchase shares in the controversial AYO Technology Solutions company.

News of the share purchase came after the union discovered through media reports that George had, without prior permission, become a non-executive director of AYO. Called to order for this, he explained that his acceptance of the position was part of the agreed union policy to have worker representatives on boards of companies. Permission was then retroactively granted.

However, subsequent reports in the media revealed that George had also established a company, Difeme, that had bought 11 million shares in AYO at the heavily discounted price of R1.50. These were shares had been sold at R43 to the Public Investment Corporation, manager of the massive, R2 trillion government pension fund. It is a matter that is now being dealt with by a commission of inquiry.

This purchase resulted in the Fedusa executive suspending George, who is scheduled to retire at the end of the year, pending the outcome of the disciplinary hearing. He maintained that he had bought the shares on behalf of the union federation and was “warehousing” them until Fedusa made a decision to establish an investment company to which the shares would be transferred.

The disciplinary hearing, scheduled more the a month ago, was delayed because of difficulty obtaining share certificates and details of the transaction. Once these were in hand and analysed, the hearing was set for last week.

In the meantime, an additional charge for bringing the union into disrepute was added because George, over recent weeks, has used social media to promote both AYO and controversial businessman, Iqbal Survé who is associated with AYO. According to a member of the federation’s executive, George, as an employee of the union, had no authority to “behave as an imbongi” (praise singer) for AYO and Survé.

The recommendation of the disciplinary hearing will be passed on to the Fedusa executive and a final decision about George’s future will be made when the executive meets on Thursday.