Declaration of the SAMWU 12th National Congress

09 December 2020

Declaration of the SAMWU 12th National Congress


We, the 486 delegates, representing over 153 000 municipal workers within the length and breadth of the country have gathered at the Mmabatho Palms Hotel in Mahikeng for the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) 12th National Congress under the theme “advancing the unity of municipal workers for class struggles”

This Congress is being held when the entire world is facing a serious health crisis in the form of Covid-19. This virus has claimed over 1.3 million lives across the world and over 20 000 South Africans. The union has also not been spared, over 10 000 municipal workers had contracted the virus while over 200 lost their lives.

This 12th National Congress is being just a few weeks after the union lost its President, Comrade John Dlamini, Mpumalanga Chairperson Comrade Lucky Nkosi, Greater Vaal Regional Chairperson Comrade Wilson Gaga, Pinky Ntsangane Regional Chairperson Comrade Clifton Booysen.

In the period under review, the union lost its founding President Comrade Petrus Mashishi. In honour of its founding President, Congress has resolved that the union’s Head Offices be renamed “Petrus Mashishi House”

Congress notes and appreciates the work that municipal workers have been doing throughout the lockdown in ensuring that despite the pandemic that had plagued the world, South Africans continued to receive services. The delivery of these services has however come at a cost to many municipal workers who had contracted the virus, with many of them passing away.

It is for this reason that Congress has resolved that since municipal workers are in the coalface of service delivery and the risk that they face in the workplace of contracting the virus, they should be paid a risk allowance which should not be once-off as proposed by the South African Local Government Association.

Despite having fewer employees than other spheres of government, workers in local government have recorded more infection. We are convinced that the reason why there are so many infections in local government is as a result of municipalities failing in their legal right to ensure the health and safety of workers in the workplace.

Congress therefore resolved that the union’s health and safety committee should be revived and cascaded to provincial and regional levels with the aim of ensuring that workers are protected in the workplace.

The 12th National Congress is being held after the union went through a period of divisions and parallel structures in regions, provinces and national office. This period brough with it paralysis of the union as the union was constantly in court instead of servicing members which ultimately led to the intervention of COSATU.

Congress appreciates work that had been done by COSATU in stabilizing the union and bringing together members and reach unity agreement which was ultimately made an order of the court through agreement by all parties. Congress has therefore resolved that the COSATU unity agreement which is also a court order be implemented in full without any exception.

This Congress is sitting just a few months after National Treasury and SALGA sought to collapse collective bargaining by instructing municipalities to not pay workers their salary increases. We appreciates the work done by the union in applying pressure to ensure that workers do receive their salary increases, we call on few municipalities that have not paid salary increases to workers to immediately pay workers what is due to them as they are violating a legally and contractually binding collective agreement.

This agreement that SALGA and National Treasury wanted to violate was in its last leg of implementation and as such, we should be going into salary and wage negotiations for an agreement that will be effective from 1 July 2021.

Given the posture and attitude by SALGA and National Treasury, we are aware of the fact that these negotiations will be difficult. Already National Treasury has indicated that there will be no salary increase for workers until 2024. Congress has therefore resolved that Policy and Collective Bargaining conferences should be convened before salary and wage negotiations begin.

Congress has noted that municipal workers face a constant onslaught from all side, they are constantly victimized, suspended and dismissed. All of these municipalities are ANC-led, municipalities which the union’s members had campaigned to ensure that the ANC is elected into power.

Delegates to this Congress are of the view that the union cannot continue nursing relationships that do not exist. Municipal workers cannot continue to give the ANC an empty cheque, particularly when workers are not being taken serious. Congress has therefore resolved that a meeting with the ANC should be convened wherein the ANC will explain why municipal workers should continue voting for the ANC.

The 12th National Congress has further resolved that all municipalities that are making a habit of bashing the union and victimizing workers should be identified and a national programme be developed to take them head-on, this campaign will also be extended to SALGA as the representative of the county’s municipalities.

The 12th National Congress has taken into account the fact that the workplace is getting younger, we also aware of the fact that trade unions have not been appealing to younger works. This means that innovative ways of attracting young workers into unions have to be thought of.

The Congress has further noted with concern the declined in membership, in an attempt to arrest the decline, Congress has resolved that the SAMWU Young Workers’ structure be constitutionalised. A constitutional review committee will be convened to ensure the inclusion of Young Workers’ structure and its envisaged operations.

In addition, Congress has resolved that a recruitment programme should be adopted, this will be inclusive of resuscitating the “SAMWU Friday” campaign. To ensure the continuity and sustainability of the campaign, the union will be prioritising the procurement of regalia for its members.

Congress is not pleased by the fact that for many years, the union has not been in good standing in COSATU as a result of the non-payment of affiliation fees. Although the union is currently servicing its current account with COSATU, the union is many months in areas.

Congress has therefore resolved that priority should be given to ensuring that the union is brought to back to its former glory and is in good standing within COSATU by March 2021.

The 12th National Congress has given National Office Bearers (NOBs) a mandate to lead the union for a period of five year. The newly elected NOBs are;

President : Nelson Mokgotho
1st Deputy President : Mluleki Mbhele
2nd Deputy President : Portia Nkuna
National Treasurer : Nwabisa Majova
General Secretary : Koena Ramotlou
Deputy General Secretary : Dumisane Magagula

Congress congratulates the newly elected NOBs and wish them well in executing their duties. We trust that they will lead municipal workers with dedication and vigour.

Issued by SAMWU Secretariat