Freedom Park staffers call for immediate suspension of CEO

2013-11-22 17:13

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The drama at Freedom Park continues to escalate. Staff at the Pretoria heritage site have signed a petition calling for the suspension of CEO Fana Jiyane.

The petition – signed by 64 of 99 staff members – was handed to the chairperson of the council, Vusi Mchunu, this afternoon.

The petition, CC’d to Arts Minister Paul Mashatile, has a covering letter that demands that Jiyane “be immediately suspended” because of a number of allegations against him that need to be investigated.

These allegations raised by staff include:

» Jiyane’s “interference in the investigation process” around sexual harassment claims against him.

» Nepotism. This is over the “unfair appointment” of a female staff member “without following institutional procedures” because he had allegedly fathered a child with her; allegations of another relationship with a senior staffer that led to her promotion and increased pay;

» Favouritism and “divide and rule tactics”;

» Violation of a broad range of policies.

Over the past month, City Press has repeatedly put these allegations to Jiyane via Mchunu. Jiyane has denied them.

A staff member who wishes to remain anonymous said: “Things have been getting more and more tense here, even since the meeting last Friday. We have decided to take action.”

City Press has been in constant contact with a dozen staff members at one of the country’s richest heritage sites, created to honour heroes of the liberation struggle.

They are afraid to have their names printed because they fear victimisation at work.

Jiyane has made City Press headlines over sexual harassment allegations, claims of monitoring staff, overspending on council trips and perceived favouritism. We have reported extensively on his suspension of three staff members who were openly critical of him in a meeting.

Read: Big Brother at Freedom Park

Sex and lies at Freedom Park

Oppression at Freedom Park

Matters came to a head a week ago when Mchunu and other council representatives met with staff to listen to their grievances.

Management was asked by staff to leave the meeting, which was rowdy, with numerous claims against Jiyane being raised.

At the heart of the unhappiness is Jiyane’s plan to restructure and streamline the staff and operations of the site. The council has awarded a R868 000 contract to consultants to devise a strategy for the restructuring of the staff.

At the meeting workers expressed their fear that the restructuring would be used to get rid of those who are not in favour with Jiyane.

This week, staff received an email from the CEO outlining the roadmap for the restructuring process.

Freedom Park has 106 staff members, but three are suspended and management was not invited to sign the petition.

City Press met with Mchunu yesterday to discuss the situation as well as the pending petition.

He said: “The council is listening to the staff. A window has been opened to hear their complaints. These are being submitted anonymously through a suggestion box. I will personally collect them, analyse and deliberate on them. Another big staff meeting will be held to address the matters at the end of (next) week.”

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