Retirement Funds Rivalry, Voluntary Withdrawal of Membership, and Transfer of Assets During the Period of Employment

Author: Clement Marumoagae

ISSN: 1996-2185
Affiliations: Senior lecturer, School of Law, University of the Witwatersrand
Source: South African Mercantile Law Journal, Volume 32 Issue 2, 2020, p. 205 – 233


In Municipal Employees Pension Fund v Natal Joint Municipal Pension Fund (Superannuation) & others [2016] 4 All SA 761 (SCA) para 2, Theron JA described the competition for members by different retirement funds associated with the same employer as a ‘turf war’. The Office of the Pension Funds Adjudicator and the South African courts are continually required to adjudicate disputes that arise when retirement funds wrestle each other for members. This article shows that the Pension Funds Act 24 of 1956 does not provide the necessary legal framework that can assist courts to resolve these disputes, which usually turn on the interpretation of individual retirement funds’ rules that are often ambiguous. Further, there is no legislative provision that adequately deals with the circumstances where actively employed members voluntarily initiate a process that will lead to their fund credits being transferred to rival retirement funds. It argues that there is a need for legislative clarity on how voluntary transfer of fund credits impact on the membership of retirement funds, particularly given the fact that, strictly speaking, members cannot be transferred from one fund to the next, whereas their fund credits can, in terms of section 14 of the PFA. Since members cannot be transferred, this article evaluates whether it is sound in law for actively employed employees to remain members of one fund but contribute to a rival fund.