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SAMWU Welcomes Decision to Place Maluti-A-Phofung Under Administration
12 February 2018
The South African Municipal Workers' Union (SAMWU) notes and welcomes the decision by the Free State Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) to place the Maluti-A-Phofung Local Municipality in terms of Section 139(i)(b) of the Constitution. The Maluti-A-Phofung Local Municipality covers areas such Qwaqwa and Harrysmith.
On 12 February 2018, SAMWU provincial leadership held a meeting with Free State COGTA MEC and her Department wherein the decision was officially communicated to the union. COGTA HOD Mr Victor Duma will immediately be appointed as the administrator of the Municipality. This decision was made while the union had already sought legal intervention to compel the Department to institute Section 139(i)(c) which essentially would see the municipal council being dissolved.
We are of the view that the intervention by the Provincial Government is a little too late, workers at the municipality received their salaries 3 days late while being expected to render their labour to the municipality. The intervention does not deal with the Mayor, Vusi Tshabalala who had been acting in the interest of his cronies, hiring people without following employment policies including adding ghost employees on the municipal payroll.
This is the same Municipality which has as a result of corruption, maladministration and nepotism not serviced it's Eskom debt which is now at over R2 billion. This is the very same municipality which organizes music concerts instead of paying workers' salaries and third parties. The municipality has also failed to put in place revenue collection mechanisms thus failing to bill for services which have been rendered for the past 8 months.
The municipality has forever been deducting money from workers' salaries and failing to pay it over to third parties such as union subscriptions, medical aid, pension fund and funeral policies. A deliberate decision which the union's NEC has concluded to be fraudulent and riddled with corruption at the expense of workers.
Currently the municipality owes over R43 million to workers' pension funds essentially meaning that workers are not only being crooked out of their hard earned money but that they are also loosing out on the interests which would have been paid had these monies be paid over. This is a decision which has also resulted in workers not being able to bury their loved ones because their funeral policies had lapsed as a result of non payment by the municipality.
We are of the view that the intervention by the Provincial Government does not address the issues which had been deliberately engineered by powers that be at the municipality. The entire municipal council has been complacent in the financial abuse against the municipal's workforce.
If indeed the municipal council had the interest of workers at heart, they would have prioritized rooting out corruption in the municipality and taking decisions which would have taken the municipality out of this mess. Instead, the council has approved the upper limits which extends more perks to Councillors. These are individuals who are self-serving and do not have the interest of workers and citizens at heart.
In welcoming the appointment of the administrator, we have committed to working with Mr Duma to restore the municipality. We are however convinced that the only way that the municipality would return to normality is only after the municipality had been dissolved in terms of Section 139 (i)(c) . In the mean time, workers have resolved to continue with their protest action until such time that matters which are in dispute have been resolved.
Issued by SAMWU Free State Province
Thabang Tseuoa, Provincial Secretary (082 620 9160), Dumisani Magagula, Deputy Provincial Secretary (085 806 4005) or Papikie Mohale, National Media Officer (073 710 0355)