Former workers claim abuse of funds by ANC

2013-06-09 10:00

Details of alleged abuse by the ANC of parliamentary funding to the tune of about R60 million are expected to emerge in the Labour Court this week where former party employees will be fighting to get their jobs back.

Fifteen former ANC caucus staffers who lost their jobs in 2009 claim they were unfairly dismissed. They demand reinstatement and back pay dated to December of that year.

The ANC is opposing the matter.

Papers before the court state that the employees – among more than 170 who lost their jobs after the April 2009 elections swept President Jacob Zuma into power – were told the party’s reduced majority necessitated job cuts by a cash-strapped caucus.

But they are arguing the true reason the caucus was under financial pressure was because the ANC had spent about R60 million of its party administration and constituency allowances on expenses for which it was not legally entitled to use the funds.

According to the court papers, these were mainly expenses incurred during the ANC’s election campaign, including:

» Campaign advertising;

» Luxury car hire;

» Paying for five-star hotel accommodation for ANC national executive committee (NEC) members; and

»Upgrading air tickets for NEC members who were also MPs.

“In many instances, (this) expenditure was not only unlawful but also contrary to ANC policies and rules,” the papers state.

The former employees also claim they were given assurances by then party chief whip Nyami Booi and Zuma that they would not lose their jobs, citing an agreement they would be redeployed to other ANC structures, the public service or new ministries if necessary.

All re-applied for their jobs but were unsuccessful.

Attorney Mongezi Ntanga confirmed to City Press he was acting for the ANC in Parliament. “I don’t have a mandate to discuss the matter further.”

ANC caucus spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said he couldn’t comment on the alleged abuse of ring-fenced funding.

While the former employees claim the ANC had since 1994 routinely renewed five-year contracts after each general election, Mothapo said no party could guarantee it would return to Parliament, or with the same majority.

Parliamentary funding of parties is allocated according to their number of seats.

The ANC shed 33 National Assembly seats in the 2009 elections.

“As a caring organisation, we have put those former employees we could not immediately employ on the priority list for re-employment as and when vacancies became available,” Mothapo said.

“We have re-employed many former employees, some of whom are on the list of court applicants.

“Some of the former staff members have since been employed by Cope, and therefore could not be re-employed as, in terms of our policy, we can only employ ANC members.”

Attorney Vernon Seymour, acting on behalf of the former employees, said efforts to reach an out-of-court settlement had failed.

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