SAMWU Statement on the State of Vhembe District Municipality

18 January 2018

SAMWU Statement on the State of Vhembe District Municipality

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) is dismayed by the continued deteriorating state of Labour Relation at Vhembe District Municipality (VDM). The employer has consistently demonstrated the uttermost disregard of all basic principles of basic labour relations.

In the process, maladministration, unfair labour practice, nepotism and corruption are thriving under the tutelage of both administration and political leadership. Since the ascendance of the current council into ‘power’ after the 2016 August Local Government Elections, the workplace relationship between organised labour and employer has deteriorated to such an extent that the Executive Mayor and the Municipal Manager prefers to communicate to Unions through lawyers, whose costs are too gross to contemplate.

SAMWU has on several instances, alerted both the Executive Mayor and the Municipal Manager of the rampant maladministration, corruption, nepotism and unfair labour practice perpetrated on at the VDM, but their indifference reaction has reached unbearable proportion and must be exposed as is.

On the 24th November 2017, both the Executive Mayor and the Municipal Manager went to an extent of refusing to receive the memorandum of grievances from SAMWU; and after a protracted struggle, the office of the MEC, Jerry Ndou acceded to stand in and receive the memorandum on behalf of the arrogant Cllr Radzilani.

Having inherited the rot from the previous council, the current council has taken the VDM from a hopeful delinquent audit opinion customer to a totally non-compliant and openly arrogant corrupt regime. It is a pity that the entire council has to take collective responsibility, while the absolute power is vested upon an individual, whose uncounselled wisdom, guided by greed and hell-bent self-aggrandisement punctuated by oversized ego, is taking the District into unparalleled abyss of retrogression.

As early as around 2014, the municipality has been abusing the provision of Schedule 32 of the Supply Chain Management Regulations to an extent that the municipality might collapse financially any time soon. In this regard, SAMWU would like to call on the authorities to conduct thorough investigations on all the contracts entered into by using the provision of Schedule 32 of the SCM Regulations since 01st July 2014 up to December 2017.

Amongst these suspicious contracts, the following answers should be provided: why were the provisions of Schedule 32 of the SCM were disregarded and who the beneficiaries were, and how much of the funds that were designated/ budgeted for the benefit of the community were involved.

There are serious allegations of corruption around the current contract of providing water cleaning chemicals to the District Municipality. It is alleged that there has been conniving between some councillors and service providers where in certain councillors benefitted unduly. The details of the allegations are very much scant and SAMWU will be intensifying its call for thorough investigations into the matter, to determine who benefitted and to what extent.

The administration has adopted an open approach in practicing nepotism in recruiting for the municipality. This has become an open secret that at VDM, nepotism is rampantly out of control. Any aspirant employee who is not attached to high offices at VDM stand a nil chance of being appointed. The glaring proof is that the Municipal Manager does not follow the VDM Policy on Selection and Recruitment.

There are permanent members of the Selection Panels and, these members are attached to the office of the Executive Mayor. A clinical assessment of all appointments that were done since September 2016 will prove these allegations of nepotism. The composition of selection panels are aimed at benefitting relatives and concubines of panelists and other big wigs of the municipality, both in council and administration.

The PA of the executive mayor has participated in selection panels that saw the appointment of relatives and concubines as Junior Fire Fighters, whilst in the first place, through the VDM Policy, he does not qualify to sit in such panels. Qualified, experienced and competent candidates are compromised in favour of relatives of the powerful. The municipal manager does not even consider the gravity of specific posts requirements, and in the process go to an extent of compromising the health and safety of both the employees and community.

The municipality is practicing unfair labour practice at a scale unsurpassed before. They just appoint a person from the street and give her a start salary at the highest notch, and when SAMWU raised the matter, it is told to go and report the matter to the Bargaining Council. Workers contracts are terminated at will without following any due procedure. During the recently held Strategic Planning Session, the executive mayor threatened to unilaterally outsource the municipal security service which was permanently municipalized in February 2017.

In the meantime, the municipality is ignoring a recent settlement agreement in which it was required to finalize the placement of all water services employees before any new recruitment could take place. The municipality has failed to finalize the placement of water services personnel since their transfer from DWA in 2007 and they have been uncertain of their status since then.

On top of this, the municipality has laid off more than 300 workers without following due procedure and in defiance of resolutions of Council and Strategic Planning Session.

SAMWU therefore demands the immediate and unconditional reemployment of workers unilaterally dismissed by the regime. We further demand the immediate implementation of the settlement agreement including the adherence to supply chain procedures at the Municipality. We also urge the Municipality to stop wasting ratepayers’ money through the use of lawyers when communication with organized labour. Most importantly, we call on the DVM to immediately investigate allegations of nepotism and corruption, failure to which we will be left with no option but to approach the relevant law enforcement agencies ourselves.

Issued by SAMWU Limpopo Province

Patrick Aphane
Provincial Secretary
076 785 9022