Court to rule on cadre deployment legislation

2012-06-30 18:26

Act prevents municipal managers from holding political office in any party

The SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) is hauling government to the Constitutional Court regarding the Municipal Systems Amendment Act, which bars politicians from senior local government jobs.

Samwu’s deputy general secretary Walter Theledi confirmed that the union will ask the country’s highest court to rule on the constitutionality of the legislation, initially dubbed the Cadre Deployment Bill.

Theledi said Samwu’s lawyers were currently preparing their court application.

“We reached an agreement with the ANC to wait for regulations to offset our concerns,” he said.

However, the regulations have been delayed for a year since the act was signed into law by President Jacob Zuma.

Among Samwu’s objections is that the act curtails workers’ bargaining rights as it gives Cooperative Governance Minister Richard Baloyi the power to set aside the decisions of the local government bargaining council.

Theledi said there had been no progress on the regulations.

Baloyi recently told Parliament the original deadlines for the regulations could not be met and that the matter may be resolved next month. The act prevents municipal managers, and the managers directly accountable to them, from holding political office in any party in any capacity – whether acting, permanent or temporary.

This includes the positions of chairperson, deputy chairperson, secretary, deputy secretary or treasurer of a political party nationally, provincially or locally.

Samwu’s Constitutional Court case follows last week’s decision by the country’s 10 055 councillors to ask the ANC to ban cadre deployment in all spheres of government.

Councillors have also asked the ANC to de-politicise administrative appointments in all spheres of government.

“Strict criteria must be used for cadres across the three levels of government to prevent abuse of the deployment policy,” said the South African Local Government Association (Salga) in a resolution.

The decision to support a ban on cadre deployment was taken at Salga’s executive committee meeting last week.

In the run up to last year’s local government elections, Zuma delayed signing the Municipal Systems Amendment Bill following Samwu’s opposition to the legislation.

Salga also supports the Democratic Alliance’s proposal that cities take responsibility for public transport, including trains.

The Passenger Rail Agency of SA opposes the plan.

“Functions such as housing, public transport and roads must be fully assigned to metropolitan municipalities,” said the association.

Attempts to contact Salga’s chief operations officer Lance Joel were unsuccessful.

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