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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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COSATU Today  |  Affiliates Press Statements

NEHAWU statement on the decision by the Department of Water and Sanitation to outsource construction of dams

5 April 2019

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] has noted with serious concern the media statement by the Minister of Water and Sanitation on the 2nd April 2019. Our understanding derived from the statement by the Minister is that the department is establishing an entity that will assist the country with the construction of dams.

In March 2018 the national union signed a settlement agreement with the department after our strike action and that agreement gave a clear instruction that the department must insource all construction work because it has the internal capacity to undertake such work. During our deliberations with the Minister, the leadership of NEHAWU made him aware that during the era of Minister Nomvula Nonkonyane construction work was outsourced to external companies and that led to the department facing a financial crisis. NEHAWU further made the Minister and his team aware that state of the art machinery was gathering dust in Jan Kempdorp because of the decision to outsource construction work and that the training centre established to train young people and workers to build dams was now a white elephant.

The Minister agreed with us to insource all construction work and further said we must work on modalities of insourcing including ring-fencing a budget for construction. We find it very unfortunate and disappointing that he has now elected to follow on the footsteps of his predecessor by outsourcing the construction of dams. Furthermore, the Minister and the acting DG had also on the 27th March 2019 announced through an internal memo to remove certain functions which are a national competency to provincial units and districts.

This is the same mistake that was done by his predecessor and it resulted in mayhem. Currently, the Minister is unable to control the water association that is run by individuals who are stealing millions from the department and the country at large. These water associations collude with some farmers and redirect water to the detriment of the black communities in those areas.
In Kakamas the Minister is unable to rein in the water board and on a daily basis, water is stolen. Currently, in Jan Kempdorp workers are striking because of a racist employer and the Minister is doing nothing to remedy the situation. In 2017 all outsourced projects failed and were handed over back to the department at a cost to the taxpayers.

As things stand, we are currently faced with the terminations of contracts for project-based employees who are doing construction work for the department and the Minister wants to agentise the same work that these workers are doing. The union is also aware that the entities to which the work will be outsourced to, also do not have the required skills to complete the work successfully. They are using consultants and service providers to be able to do their work and as NEHAWU we find this to be ridiculous and a waste of taxpayer’s money.

As NEHAWU, we reject with the contempt it deserves the establishment of these entities more so because we were never consulted. As such, we have applied for our settlement agreement to be made an order of the court. In the meantime, we will be preparing to mobilise our members to fight any form of agentisation and defend job security.

NEHAWU is vehemently opposed to outsourcing, agentisation and the relegation of key government functions to external service providers. We stand by our long-held belief that the government must build its own internal capacity to be able to prioritise service delivery and create jobs in the process. Outsourcing has proven beyond a reasonable doubt over time that it is inherently corrupt and tends to waste taxpayers money.

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat
Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU Media Liaison Officer) at 082 455 2500 or email: khaya@nehawu.org.za Visit NEHAWU website: www.nehawu.org.za