21 December 2022
SAMWU notes and cautiously welcome the ANC elective conference outcomes
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) as an affiliate of COSATU, which is in alliance with the ANC congratulates the latter on their recently concluded 55th National Conference held from 16th December to 20th December 2022 in Johannesburg. We further note and cautiously welcome the announcement of both the top 7 officials and the National Executive Committee whom branches and members have entrusted with leading the governing party for the next 5 years.
We take tune from the message of support delivered by COSATU President, Cde Zingiswa Losi at the Conference that “workers have put the ANC on a final warning.” As SAMWU, we share the sentiments made by our federation, the reality of the matter is that workers across the three spheres of government are frustrated while community members, who have witnessed lack of delivery of services, high cost of living, crime, corruption and loadshedding are equally frustrated and hopeless.
As SAMWU, we encourage the newly elected leadership to immediately work towards restoring the trust between workers and government which has been eroded by government’s actions to deliberately collapse collective bargaining, dictating workers’ salary and wage increases and reneging on legally binding collective agreements. It has always been our position that the ANC as a leader of society, should not preside over a government that deliberately denies workers their increases as this not only prejudices workers but also sets a precedent that private companies will follow.
The country has for a long time been plunged into darkness by Eskom, this has resulted in many small to large businesses which were still recovering from Covid-19 facing yet another pandemic in the form of loadshedding. Residents throughout the country are unable to live normal lives with these regular blackouts which seemingly, are becoming a permanent feature of the country. As municipal workers and residents, we need Eskom which is functional and able to supply electricity without fail. It is for this reason that we urge the new leadership to prioritize the recovery and stability of Eskom. This leadership should ensure energy security for the country through Eskom as a way of growing the economy and shielding residents from these constant blackouts.
For many South Africans, crime and corruption have become a lived daily reality. Many South Africans feel unsafe in their homes and on the streets. The newly elected leadership should ensure that government protects its residents from threats from both within and outside. Many communities now live in areas that have become a playground for gangsters, criminals and drug dealers. In protecting residents and the country’s interests, government needs to ensure that the security cluster operates effectively.
As municipal workers, we are concerned by the state of South Africa’s municipalities. Many of these municipalities have been rendered dysfunctional. Some, such as Ditsobotla Local Municipality in the North West province collapsed as a result of political infighting among ANC Councilors, who at some point elected parallel structures to run the municipality. As the new leadership begin with their work, there is a need to ensure that deployees of the ANC throughout the country’s municipalities work in the interest of municipalities and not political factions.
Corruption, fraud and maladministration have also played a role in destabilizing and collapsing many municipalities in the country. The situation is so dire that every year when the Auditor General releases municipal audit outcomes, it is always expected that irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure will increase. For years, municipalities have been neglected to a point wherein they are no longer able to deliver services to residents, despite Constitutional provisions allowing both Provincial and National governments to intervene in ailing municipalities.
The interventions that we have seen in municipalities, in particular through Section 139 of the Constitution have not necessarily been in the interest of saving these municipalities but settling political scores within the ANC. As a result, the root causes of municipal failures have not been addressed hence many municipalities, despite the interventions, have not recovered from the challenges they faced. We, therefore, urge this new leadership to be champions of intergovernmental relations between all three spheres of government. For South Africa to work, the country’s municipalities as they are in the coalface of service delivery, need to work efficiently.
Importantly, we are concerned by the failure by municipalities to consistently pay workers their salaries in full and on time. Many municipalities have normalized failing to pay statutory deductions such as pensions, medical aids, and tax. SAMWU considers this practice to be criminal in nature and as such, Municipal Managers, as accounting officers should be held personally liable for this theft of workers’ wages.
We have recently learned that workers at the Emfuleni Local Municipality in Gauteng province will not be receiving their December salaries as the entity’s bank account has been attached through a court order by Eskom for non-payment. The attaching of a municipal bank account affects both workers and service delivery. This is also a testament to the non-existent inter-governmental relations between the spheres of government. We, therefore, call on the ANC as the leader of society to prioritize assisting and stabilizing the country’s municipalities. It is immoral, unethical and criminal for government to subject workers and their families to a black Christmas.
We lastly take this opportunity to wish the men and women elected in both the top 7 and the NEC well in discharging their duties. In doing so, they all should be mindful of the plights of workers and communities as a whole. As municipal workers, we would love to see all the issues that have been raised above attended to immediately and without fail. The new leadership should be mindful of the fact that indeed, workers have put them on a final warning!
Issued by SAMWU Secretariat
076 580 4029
National Media Officer
073 710 0356