SAMWU’s challenge to the Municipal Systems Act Amendments to be heard at the Constitutional Court.

5 October 2023

SAMWU’s challenge to the Municipal Systems Act Amendments to be heard at the Constitutional Court.

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) will tomorrow, 6 October 2023 be appearing at the Constitutional Court to challenge the amendments to the Municipal Systems Act (MSA). The amendments which were signed into law in late 2022 seek to introduce a blanket prohibition for municipal workers from holding political office at any level while in the employ of a municipality.

According to Section 71(B) of the amendments; “A staff member may not hold political office in a political party, whether in a permanent or acting capacity.” The Unions’ Central Executive Committee (CEC) had taken a decision to challenge the constitutionality of these amendments as they infringe and limit workers’ rights and the Bill of Rights.

The amendments to the MSA are a result of the successful challenge by SAMWU at the Constitutional Court in 2017 wherein the Constitutional Court declared the MSA invalid and defective while directing Parliament to address the defects or alternatively enact new legislation.

During the public participation process, the draft amendments only prohibited Municipal Managers and those reporting directly to a Municipal Manager from holding political office. When the amendments were finalized, they introduced a blanket prohibition for all municipal employees irrespective of their position within a municipality.

As SAMWU, we are of the view that these amendments will not address the challenges faced by the country’s municipalities but rather strip workers of their constitutional rights and freedom of association. In compliance with these amendments which the Union deems to be unconstitutional, several municipalities had already written to workers informing them that they should relinquish their positions in political parties, with the ultimatum that failure to do so would result in automatic and immediate termination of their employment.

Many of our members have already fallen victim to these amendments as they were not allowed to fully participate in the political parties which they belong to. These workers were not allowed to stand to be elected, in violation of Section 19 (3) (b) of the Bill of Rights which confirms the rights of all South Africans to “stand for public office and, if elected, to hold office.”

Given the violations of municipal workers’ rights, the Union approached the Constitutional Court and requested that the hearing of the matter be expedited. The Constitutional Court has confirmed Friday 6 October for hearing the matter. The Union remains confident that the highest court in the country will not allow the violation and infringement of the rights of our members and municipal workers in general.

We once more reiterate that municipal workers should not resign from any political positions they hold until the matter has been finalized by the Constitutional Court. The Union’s National Office Bearers will be present in Court tomorrow and will provide feedback to members as the case progresses.

Issued by SAMWU Secretariat

Dumisane Magagula
General Secretary
(076 580 4029)


Nkhetheni Muthavhi
Deputy General Secretary
(082 526 5224)


Papikie Mohale
National Media Officer
(076 795 8670)