Nehawu defends renting flat

2012-06-18 00:00

THE National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) provincial secretary, Zola Saphetha, admitted that the union is renting a flat in Durban, but insisted it was normal practice that was saving the union thousands in hotel fees.

Weekend Witness quoted a protester as saying there was a flat bought in Durban with the union’s money. A group of union members closed three of the union’s four regional offices in Durban, Pietermaritzburg and Richards Bay on Friday, saying they want Saphetha to be removed.

The protesters are calling for an investigation into alleged mismanagement of funds within the union.

But Saphetha dismissed teh allegations.

“This is distortion and a smear campaign to discredit the union. We don’t own property,” he told The Witness. Rather, he said, the union was renting a flat in Durban CBD near its offices. He could not reveal the location because of security concerns, he said, but explained the three-bedroom flat was used “to house any union member during the meetings, conference or cases members are facing”.

“This is to cut costs. We realised that using hotels cost too much,” he added.

He said some of the members lived far away and spent up to four days in Durban.

He said the union used to spend almos  R30 000 a month on accommodation, but had reduced this by R23 000 “that’s redirected to the service”.

“Every day we have meetings. Other organisations buy property. So there’s nothing funny about what we did,” he added.

He insisted that he did not sleep in that flat.

Nehawu’s provincial executive committee held a press conference yesterday to address its members.

In a media statement Nehawu said there was no need to investigate the union’s finances as the province was stable, and it was incorrect to conclude from the actions of fewer than 20 disgruntled members acting in an ill-disciplined manner that there was a crisis in the province when the provincial union had 39 950 members.

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