18 April 2023
IFP march in Ladysmith is an attack on municipal workers, collective bargaining, intergovernmental relations and service delivery.
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) has noted with concern, social media posters of a purported march by the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) to be held on the 19th April 2023 at the Alfred Duma Local Municipality and uThukela District Municipality, both located in Ladysmith.
Unlike the IFP, we as a Union value and respect the freedoms of expression, association, assembly and political rights as enshrined in the Bill of Rights. We, however, take issue when these rights are abused in attacking municipal workers for the sake of scoring cheap political points and making unnecessary political statements. We are agitated as workers when a political party, in a democratic country, seeks to suppress workers’ rights and undermine collective bargaining, in the name of politics These are antics that our forebears fought against during the apartheid era and cannot be expected nor tolerated in a democratic state.
One of the demands that the IFP will be marching for is the immediate removal of SAMWU from the [Local] Labour Forum. We now know the reason why LLF meetings have not been sitting at both Alfred Duma and uThukela, seemingly a clear instruction has been issued to municipal management and IFP Councillors to frustrate unions in those platforms that are meant to ensure sound labour relations in municipalities.
We do not need to remind the IFP that our presence in the LLF is legislated and as such, we do not need their permission to participate in issues affecting workers who are in the majority, our members. The IFP and its Councillors do not have any power whatsoever to determine who sits in the LLF, composition of LLFs are determined by the Main Collective Agreement which governs labour relations in all 257 municipalities in the Country.
Surprisingly, the IFP has been silent on the criminal case involving the uThukela District Municipal Manager who allegedly forged the signature of the Administrator in Court papers. We have as SAMWU opened a criminal case of forgery at the Ladysmith SAPS under CAS572/3/2023.
Furthermore, the IFP seems to be oblivious to the fact that local government does not exist in isolation in the country. The Constitution and the Intergovernmental Relations Act are clear on the role of Provincial and National Government in the affairs of municipalities and as such, when municipalities such as Alfred Duma and uThukela are struggling, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) has a constitutional and legislative obligation to intervene to address the situation that has deteriorated at the expense of service delivery and municipal workers.
If the IFP had its house in order in the two municipalities which they have been borrowed power at, there would be no need for intervention from COGTA, hence they now think that unions, in particular SAMWU should kneel before them as though they are gods.
As SAMWU, we reiterate that our primary focus has never and will never be which political party governs a municipality. Our focus is on the wellbeing of workers and their conditions of employment. The IFP should learn to separate political leadership and administration in municipalities. This is the same IFP which earlier this year pronounced that municipal workers will be fired to make way for IFP supporters.
These are the questions that the IFP should ask themselves as they march to themself on the 19th;
• Where was the IFP when these two municipalities received qualified audit opinions from the Auditor General?
• Where was the IFP when their former Councillor at Alfred Duma was promising women employment in exchange for sex?
• Where was the IFP when uThukela municipal management was falsifying employee injuries at work?
• Where was the IFP when Alfred Duma municipal management refused to disclose legitimate documents to the Union?
• Where was the IFP when LLF meetings were intentionally collapsed?
• Where was the IFP when the uThukela Municipal Manager allegedly forged Court documents?
The IFP should instead instruct their Councillors to attend to the genuine issues which have been raised by workers at both Alfred Duma and uThukela. Residents of these municipalities deserve service delivery, not these cheap political stunts being pulled by the IFP. Importantly, workers in these municipalities want an environment which is conducive for them to efficiently and safely deliver services to residents.
At least workers and residents of all the IFP led Municipalities now know what they are dealing with!
Issued by SAMWU Secretariat
076 580 4029
National Media Officer
076 795 8670