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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 November, 2004, 14:45 GMT
Unions attack SA empowerment deal
Fifteen percent of Telkom is at stake
South African trade unions have hit out at a plan by a consortium of black investors to buy a stake in privatised telephone utility Telkom.

The COSATU union body said the deal would help only a "tiny elite," and questioned the involvement of former government officials in the consortium.

"This deal will do nothing to help the overwhelming majority of South Africans," it said in a statement.

"It epitomises the very worst form of so-called black economic empowerment."

Corruption risk

The investment consortium includes a former head of the telecommunications ministry, as well as a former spokesperson for South Africa's ruling ANC party, COSATU said.

Under the deal, it would buy some 15.1% of Telkom's shares from US-Malaysian group Thintata.

COSATU said government officials should be legally prevented from acquiring shares in companies that fall within their area of responsibility for a fixed number of years after leaving office.

"Otherwise there will remain a risk that officials will at best have a serious conflict of interests and, at worst, be involved in outright corruption by using their political contacts to enrich themselves," the union said in a statement.

COSATU also called for the renationalisation of Telkom, claiming that its transfer to private ownership has cost thousands of jobs.

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