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Pension Funds Adjudicator reappointed until 2018

06 July 2015 Pension Funds Adjudicator
Muvhango Antoinette Lukhaimane.

Muvhango Antoinette Lukhaimane.

Finance Minister, Nhlanhla Nene, has extended the term of office of South Africa's fifth Pension Funds Adjudicator until 30 June 2018.

Muvhango Antoinette Lukhaimane was initially appointed as Pension Funds Adjudicator (PFA) with effect from 1 July 2013.

Ms Lukhaimane, who possesses a wealth of experience as a seasoned lawyer, and has also been employed within the pension funds industry and in human resources, has turned the beleaguered Office of the Pension Funds Adjudicator (OPFA) around.

Within a relatively short period of two years, Ms Lukhaimane has improved efficiencies and turnaround times of complaints lodged by disgruntled pension fund members.

She has managed to integrate work and people processes to achieve greater efficiency. Despite an increase in the number of new complaints, service levels and quality increased significantly owing to regular monitoring and evaluation; and proactive management of performance on the part of staff.

Within a year of taking up the position as PFA, Ms Lukhaimane tackled the Herculean task of wiping out the historical backlog of complaints for the first time since the OPFA was established more than 16 years ago.

Advocate Dube Tshidi, executive officer of the Financial Services Board (FSB), said the extension of Ms Lukhaimane's appointment would only help take the Office of the Pension Funds Adjudicator to greater heights, given the exemplary manner in which she has managed to restore the tribunal to operational efficiency.

“Justice delayed is justice denied and Ms Lukhaimane made her mark when she eroded the mountain of unresolved complaints that had been allowed to accumulate over the years before she took office.

“The FSB is happy that an important dispute resolution mechanism for the pension funds industry will remain in good hands especially at a time when reforms are underway with the proposed Twin Peaks model of financial sector regulation,” he said

Commenting on her reappointment, Ms Lukhaimane said much credit for the success of her office must go to her dedicated staff as well as the excellent cooperation received from the FSB Board and National Treasury.

The cooperation from funds and administrators also assisted a great deal in achieving the operational efficiencies in the office.

She said she was committed to working even harder at improving stakeholder interaction so that the pensions dispute resolution forum became more visible to the public.

"There is need for effective and regular education for actual and possible pension fund participants and retirement annuity policyholders regarding the need to save, planning for retirement and investing and financial literacy in general.

"This can counteract poor financial decisions by members. This education, however, must start with children at home and in schools."

Ms Lukhaimane said trustees played a key role in the governance of pension funds. Hence trustees must have the relevant experience and skills to make investment decisions consistent with the best interest of the pension fund and its beneficiaries.

After completing matric, Ms Lukhaimane decided to embark on a career in law and obtained a B.Iuris degree from the University of Venda. This was followed by the LLB degree from the University of Pretoria. Through part-time studies she obtained the Master of Laws degree, with emphasis on human rights law, constitutional interpretation, labour law and medical jurisprudence. The title of her dissertation was "The Right to Die: Does the Constitution Protect This Right?"

Ms Lukhaimane also obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies from Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College and a Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning from the University of Free State. She recently completed an MBA through Wits Business School.

Her first job was at the University of Venda from January 1995 to January 2000 as a law lecturer. She then took a job as research consultant at Sanlam Employee Benefits in Cape Town and was legal advisor at the same office from May 2001 to June 2002. From July 2002 to June 2003, she was legal consultant at Liberty Personal Benefits in Cape Town. From July 2003 to March 2005, Ms Lukhaimane was principal officer of the Eskom Pension and Provident Fund.

From April 2005 to May 2007, she was general manager: research at the State Security Agency in Pretoria and moved within the agency to hold the position of general manager: human resources from June 2007 to May 2011. From June 2011 to May 2012 she was chairperson: intelligence services council at the Ministry of State Security in Pretoria.

Ms Lukhaimane's scope of duties included preparing, leading and executing the Strategic Plan of the Council, advising and making recommendations to the minister on the development of policies on human resources and conditions of service and advising and making recommendations to the directors-general on alignment and compliance of all human resources and conditions of service.

 

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