3 July 2023
SAMWU condemns the suspension of workers by uThukela District to cover implicated Councillors and Senior Managers.
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) has noted with great concern and agitation the decision by the uThukela District Municipality in Kwa-Zulu Natal to suspend twelve workers following the release of a forensic audit commissioned by the Province’s Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA).
Acting on the findings of the report, the Municipal Manager hastily moved to suspend workers, despite numerous cautions from the Union that these workers have not been properly served these letters of suspensions as they did not have reasons which led the municipality to reaching a conclusion that they should be suspended. As a Union, we further wrote to the Municipal Manager seeking clarity on these suspensions, questions which remain unanswered.
Following a leak of the report, which the Union is also in possession of, we now know that these workers were used as sacrificial lambs too shield the Mayor, Councillors and Senior managers at the municipality who have been implicated in the forensic report. In a media statement issued on the 21st of June 2023, the Municipal Manager tried once more to shift the blame to the previous administration.
The attempt by the Municipal Manager to blame the previous administration is nothing but yet another attempt to shield the current administration. The Municipal Manager was economic with the truth in the June media statement. He knows very well that current Senior Managers who also served in the previous administration were enablers of the fraud and corruption that occurred in the procurement of the security contract that was flagged by the forensic auditors.
As a Union, we however would not want to dwell much on the political administrators of the municipality. For us, the question of who governs a municipality is immaterial, we are only concerned and preoccupied by issues which directly affect our members and their conditions of service. We therefore cannot allow our members to be used as scapegoats when the municipality’s resources are plundered, resulting in poor service delivery for residents in the municipalities served by the uThukela District Municipality.
As SAMWU, we demand the immediate uplifting of these procedurally flawed and vexatious suspensions of our members. If Councillors and the administration at the uThukela District Municipality were interested in a corrupt free municipality, they would have acted speedily against the Director Corporate Services, the Mayor, the Municipal Manager and other Councillors who are fingered in the report.
By suspending innocent workers, the Municipal Manager is playing to the gallery, desperately trying to appease the public and create an impression that the municipality is acting against fraud and corruption, whereas he has been most influential enabler of these crimes against residents of uThukela.
The Municipal Manager acted against these workers because they are soft targets, the Municipal Manager knows very well that these workers can only act upon instruction, instruction that came directly from his office. We are convinced that the actions by the Municipal Manager were an attempt to cover the political fallout that would have occurred should actions be taken against the real criminals who are being harboured by the municipality.
We are further concerned that despite the municipality being under the administration of the Provincial Government, lawlessness, theft and corruption in the municipality has continued with impunity. To this date, the Provincial Government and uThukela Council have allowed the municipality’s accounting officer to continue presiding over the affairs of the municipality whereas he is facing charges of fraud as per CAS572/32023 at the Ladysmith SAPS.
If Council and COGTA are interested in a corrupt-free municipality, they should first act against the Municipal Manager. If Council and COGTA are interested in good governance in the municipality, they would not be complicit in allowing workers to scapegoated in an attempt to save the Municipal Manager, the Mayor, Senior Managers and other Councillors.
As SAMWU, we will not allow ourselves to be dragged into the political mudsling currently happening at the municipality. We will not allow our members to be stripped of their integrity by a Municipal Manager who is parading them as thieves whereas the thieves are being protected by his office. We will further not allow a situation wherein our members lose their jobs while the real thieves are busy enjoying the proceeds of crime.
We therefore reiterate our call for the immediate uplifting of these suspensions which are politically motivated. We further demand that COGTA, as empowered by the Constitution take swift action against all those implicated in the report. We further plead for the consciousness of uThukela Councillors to not be complicit relegating innocent workers to hunger and starvation.
As a Union, we too are interested in seeing corrupt free municipalities so our jobs are protected and most importantly, that municipalities’ ability to deliver services are not hindered by thieves and greedy Councillors.
Issued by SAMWU Professor Sibankhulu Region
071 338 7460
uThukela Local Secretary
082 678 9480 / 060 351 6127