19 October 2023
SAMWU condemns attempts by Lepelle-Nkumpi Mayor to divide and capture the Union
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) in Limpopo province is deeply concerned about the actions of Mayor Meriam Molala of Lepelle-Nkumpi Local Municipality. These actions have the potential to disrupt the stable labour relations that our Union has diligently built and maintained within the municipality over the years. We are especially disheartened that someone in a prominent position such as that of a Mayor has chosen to exploit the situation and sow division within the Union in an attempt to protect her political career.
On the 5th of October, the Union was scheduled to conduct Shop Steward by-elections at the municipality, in accordance with the directives of the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) meeting and the Union’s Constitution. However, during the meeting, attendees were abruptly instructed to vacate the municipal hall, despite having received prior permission from the municipality to use the facility for our meeting.
Upon inquiring about the reasons for the request to vacate the premises, we were informed by a Union member who serves as an official in the Office of the Municipal Manager that the Mayor had issued instructions for the meeting to be adjourned and for members to vacate the hall immediately. Although the meeting did continue its proceedings outside municipal premises, we wish to remind the Mayor that labour relations in municipalities are governed by the Main Collective Agreement, which permits recognized unions to conduct their activities within municipal premises.
We have since discovered that the instruction to disrupt the meeting was motivated by a desire to secure the election of individuals aligned with the Mayor as Shop Stewards. SAMWU strongly objects to the Mayor’s decision to disrupt a duly authorized meeting with the intent of manipulating the process in favour of individuals within her inner circle. It is perplexing why a Mayor would have a vested interest in the outcomes of Union procedures, unless her intentions are to exert influence over and control the Union.
We have now confirmed that the instruction to disrupt the meeting was aimed at securing the election of individuals aligned with the Mayor as Shopstewards. SAMWU strongly objects to the Mayor’s decision to disrupt a duly sanctioned meeting in order to manipulate the process in favour of individuals within her inner circle. It remains unclear why a Mayor would have such a keen interest in the outcomes of Union processes, unless her intentions are to exert control and influence over the Union.
In light of these unsuccessful and disreputable attempts to manipulate our procedures, the Union wrote to the Political Management Team (PMT), which comprises the Mayor, Speaker, and Chief Whip, seeking clarification on this unauthorized and opportunistic directive. Regrettably, to date, the Union has not received any response. This lack of communication leads us to the troubling conclusion that the PMT may be complicit in this endeavour to sow division and gain control over the Union.
Furthermore, we have become aware of a Union member, Cde Lazarus Ledwaba, who sought to influence the outcomes of the elections in favour of the Mayor’s preferred individuals, intentionally and wilfully withholding correspondence related to this matter from the Mayor. This is the same individual who also made an effort to disrupt the PEC-sanctioned meeting. The Union will furnish a comprehensive report to the Provincial Disciplinary Committee to address such behaviour, which undermines the collective endeavour of rebuilding and uniting the Union.
The Union emphasizes the need for discipline within its ranks. It is unacceptable that we must contend with employer issues while our efforts to do so are deliberately undermined by some of our own members. Furthermore, we urge our members not to be engulfed by political factions and to remember their primary role, which is to represent the interests of the workers they serve.
The Union remains steadfast in its fight against any attempt to be co-opted or manipulated by management within all municipalities. In these challenging times, workers are under attack and deserve unwavering support from a united Union that is not subject to capture by Mayors or other external influences.
Issued by SAMWU Limpopo
(076 785 9022)
Deputy Provincial Secretary
(083 302 4571)