Nehawu threatens to down tools over Parliamentary bonuses

2018-10-05 05:33
The National Assembly is seen. (Esa Alexander, Gallo Images, The Times, file)

The National Assembly is seen. (Esa Alexander, Gallo Images, The Times, file)

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On the eve of what promises to be a very busy final quarter of the year for Parliament, the institution's employees are willing to down tools if they do not get a positive response from the presiding officers about the performance bonuses apparently paid to Parliament's top management.

Parliament's annual report for the 2017/2018 financial year lists under the heading "Performance Bonus" an amount of R56 000 next to the name of suspended secretary to Parliament Gengezi Mgidlana.

In June 2017 - two months after the start of the financial year - Mgidlana went on "special leave". In November, he was suspended pending disciplinary proceedings, which have still not been finalised.

READ: Parliament to continue disciplinary against suspended secretary Mgidlana

The annual report also lists an amount of R38 000 under "Performance Bonus" next to the name of Penelope Tyawa, who acted in the place of Mgidlana.

Similar figures are stated for acting deputy secretary Modibedi Phindela and secretary to the National Assembly Masibulele Xaso - R33 000 each - and chief financial officer Manenzhe Manenzhe - R31 000.

The graph relating these managers' remuneration for 2017 did not have a column with performance bonuses.

Parliament denies payments

Similarly, the graph with the remuneration for divisional managers for 2018 contained a column with bonuses listed, with figures ranging from R24 000 to R36 000, and no figures next to three names.

READ: Special leave not enough, Mgidlana must go - Nehawu

After Daily Maverick reported that Mgidlana and the other managers received bonuses, Parliament released a statement on Thursday, denying that any bonuses were paid.

"Parliament has not paid anyone bonuses for the 2017/18 financial year and has also not done so for the past three years," reads the statement from parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo, who had a figure of R33 000 under performance bonus next to his name.

"The financial statements referred to in the 2017/18 annual report are prepared in terms of the South African Standards of Generally Recognised Accounting Practice (GRAP), which provide that revenue or expenses are recognised when earned or incurred, instead of when received or paid to the beneficiary respectively.

"The annual report reflects provisions, or projections, made for possible payment of bonuses subject to the outcomes of the annual performance assessments. This projection does not denote actual payments and this should be easy to comprehend by any vigilant reporter."

Mothapo said the R15.4m budget projection declared in the annual report caters for all parliamentary staff.

He said the reason that only the budget provision for executive management is disclosed, is that GRAP prescribes that the remuneration of key management, inclusive of performance bonuses, should be disclosed.

"For this reason, the budget projections made for the rest of staff members' performance bonuses are not tabulated in the annual report, as done in respect of senior management.

"A conclusion that Secretary to Parliament Mr Gengezi Mgidlana, who has been on suspension while undergoing a disciplinary enquiry, was paid R56 000 bonus, alongside other executive managers, is grossly erroneous and an unfortunate misapprehension of the financial section of Parliament's annual report," Mothapo said.

Five-day deadline

The National Education Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu), whose members in Parliament include researchers helping committees with annual reports, wasn't convinced.

The union had a meeting on Thursday, where its members decided it will write to the presiding officers, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete and National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise, saying that they should also pay performance bonuses to the rest of the staff.

Nehawu branch secretary Temba Gubula said their members would be willing to go on strike if they didn't get a positive response from the presiding officers within five days.

In their letter, they will also express their concern that it seems that the disciplinary steps against Mgidlana are deliberately delayed until the end of his contract so that he can leave without a finding against his name.

They will also be writing to the Auditor General to raise their concerns and also to ask for an engagement with the Auditor General's office for it to interrogate Parliament's financial statements, said Gubula.

Much of Nehawu's industrial action in 2015, which saw singing parliamentary staff violently removed from the precinct by riot police and a shutdown, and strife between workers and the institution since then, was about performance bonuses.

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Read more on:    nehawu  |  labour action  |  parliament 2018

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