EXCLUSIVE: Department of Labour deregisters 'bogus union' linked to Zuma

2017-01-20 12:50
(File, Department of Labour)

(File, Department of Labour)

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Johannesburg - The Department of Labour (DoL) has cancelled the registration of a labour union linked to President Jacob Zuma and covert agents of the State Security Agency (SSA).

According to a notice published in the Government Gazette on Friday, Malixole Ntelki, the DoL's acting registrar of labour relations, has cancelled the registration of the Workers Association Union (WAU). 

This follows reports that the WAU was allegedly established on the instruction of President Jacob Zuma, and with the help of agents from the SSA.

Thebe Maswabi, a founding member of the WAU, is currently suing Zuma, State Security Minister David Mahlobo and several other Cabinet ministers over their role in the WAU's formation.

In court papers lodged at the High Court in Pretoria, Maswabi alleges that Zuma personally instructed him to help establish the WAU in 2013.

At the time, a strike in the platinum sector was doing considerable damage to the economy. The WAU's founding members were allegedly also instructed to spy on the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), a union that is not aligned to the ruling ANC, and to try and weaken Amcu by poaching its members. 

According to the court papers, Zuma allegedly assigned agents from the SSA to help Maswabi establish the WAU. He allegedly initially received large amounts of cash from the SSA agents to pay the rent for the WAU's offices, among other expenses, but the payments later stopped, leaving Maswabi in debt.

An investigation by Rapport and City Press found evidence that suggested Maswabi may have been telling the truth. A cellphone number on the WAU's original registration document at the DoL was traced to Monde Gadini, a known SSA operative and the husband of Bonisiwe Makhene, one of Zuma's legal advisers.

The DoL has since launched an internal investigation into the role Thembinkosi Mkalipi, the DoL's chief director of labour relations, played in the WAU's registration with the department.

Mokgadi Pela, the DoL's acting spokesperson, says the office of the registrar of labour relations is in the process of deregistering several labour unions that do not comply with statutory requirements or which are deemed to be no longer operational. 

"With regards to the trade union in question . . . the intention to deregister [the WAU] was published sometime in September 2016 and representations were not submitted [to challenge the deregistration], hence it was deregistered," says Pela.

It is not clear whether the DoL has concluded its investigation into the WAU's formation.

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Read more on:    department of labour  |  ssa  |  labour

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