Zuma in cadre law dilemma

2011-04-30 17:47

As President Jacob Zuma tried to stomp out one election fire this week, another is burning under him.

Zuma has 17 days in which to sign an amendment bill that will outlaw comrades ­getting plush jobs in municipalities, but he is facing union fury over the move.

It is now awaiting the presidential signature to become law, which ­government officials say must be done before the local elections to alter the composition of new municipalities.

In his Freedom Day speech, Zuma said: “The blurring of the lines ­between the political and administrative aspects of governance has tended to affect service delivery in the ­outgoing municipal administrations. We have to ensure the appointment of qualified and experienced ­personnel.”

But Cosatu general secretary ­Zwelinzima Vavi said there was no consensus on the Municipal Systems Act amendment, which was passed in Parliament on April 13.

Vavi said: “They can be used by ­factions in the ruling party to sideline political competitors.” He added that the amendment bill undermined ­citizens’ ­constitutional right to stand for ­political party positions.

The Cosatu-affiliated South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), warned that there would be chaos throughout the country if the ­amendment bill was signed into law.

Samwu is prepared to go all the way to the Constitutional Court, with the union’s deputy general secretary, ­Walter Theledi, saying: “We will fight it ­until the bitter end.”

The amendment bill provides for the “depoliticisation” of municipalities by prohibiting political office bearers at branch, ­regional and provincial levels from holding senior local government ­positions including municipal-manager and committee-head positions.

Samwu believes that its members who are political office bearers are ­being targeted. Theledi said Samwu’s submission to Parliament was ignored.

Samwu also has the backing of the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), whose spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said the amendment bill did not address service delivery problems.

“It is about neutralising ­certain ­people. We reject this outright. It is ­going to create more disillusionment and chaos,” he said.

But Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Deputy Minister Yunus Carrim said Samwu was ­consulted on the various drafts of the amendment bill.

He said the bill was referred to ­Nedlac – the body comprising government, business, labour and community organisations – at the ­suggestion of Samwu. Carrim said: “In several ­municipalities, senior managers are political office bearers who refuse to be guided by mayors and senior ­councillors who are ordinary ­members of the political party.”

According to presidential spokesperson Zanele Mngadi, Zuma had not received the bill yet. “The president still has to...decide whether to sign it or send it back for changes,” she said.

The bill has always been a bone of contention in the tripartite alliance. Going into the ANC’s national general council in September last year, eight of the nine provinces opposed it.

The council resolved that the matter be referred to a local and provincial government summit to map a way ­forward. The summit gave the ­proposed bill the nod before it was put before Parliament.

This week, Zuma promised ­comrades excluded from councillor candidate lists that the ANC would not hesitate to fire candidates and hold by-
elections if probes revealed electoral processes had been manipulated.

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