Purged civil servant gets his revenge

2013-12-22 14:00

An Mpumalanga municipality is paying dearly after a sacked employee started attaching its properties to recoup the salary he lost.

Public servants will be watching with interest after a Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) ruling in Mandla Tibane’s favour. It ordered that municipalities should not purge incumbent staff members when new councillors assume office and bring their own aides along.

Tibane was one of four mayoral support-staff members in Middelburg’s Steve Tshwete municipality. He was forced to take a new position or face dismissal when new mayor Michael Masina took office after the 2011 local government elections.

Tibane?–?who was a personal assistant to Masina’s predecessor, Mantlhakeng Mahlangu?–?refused to take a new position in the municipality. His union, the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu), lodged a complaint of unfair labour practice with the SA Local Government Bargaining Council.

Three of Tibane’s colleagues accepted new posts within the municipality.

Municipal manager Willie Fouché then dismissed Tibane for declining a new position.

Tibane won an arbitration award at the CCMA six months after his dismissal to be reinstated retrospectively, but the municipality is refusing to give him back his job.

Now Tibane’s lawyers have received a warrant to attach the municipality’s movable properties to recover R143?490 in lost earnings, the amount he lost during the first six months of his unemployment.

He has now been without a job for two years.

“The properties have been attached, but not sold yet because the municipality intends applying for an interdict to stop the sale in execution,” Tibane said.

“My lawyers are enforcing the award and the municipality has challenged the award in the labour court. They claim they’ve lost the records and are even lying that the award shouldn’t be implemented because I am now employed by the Limpopo government,” Tibane said.

Steve Tshwete deputy municipal manager Mandla Mnguni confirmed that the municipality had taken the matter to the labour court on review. But he denied being aware of the attachment.

In correspondence between the municipality’s lawyers, Johan Alberts Attorneys, and Tibane’s lawyers, Ruth Edmonds Attorneys, the former argues that the warrant of execution is premature because the matter is sub judice.

Samwu says the practice of purging staff is common at municipalities.

Samwu general secretary Walter Theledi said this was part of a challenge the union had taken to the constitutional court against certain provisions of the Municipal Systems Act.

“This is happening in most municipalities in the country, especially in mayor’s offices, where the new leader will want to bring in his own people,” he said.

“These are technical people who assist mayors with diaries and so forth. It’s not right that they must be discarded when new mayors take office. We’ve raised this matter with the ANC, but we didn’t get support,” said Theledi.

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