SAHRC probing allegations of religious discrimination in Limpopo premier's office

2019-12-03 07:08
Thousands of ZCC (Zion Christian Church) members in green and khaki gather in Moria City, outside Polokwane (Limpopo), every year to celebrate their annual Easter weekend. (Leon Sadiki, City Press, file)

Thousands of ZCC (Zion Christian Church) members in green and khaki gather in Moria City, outside Polokwane (Limpopo), every year to celebrate their annual Easter weekend. (Leon Sadiki, City Press, file)

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The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in Limpopo is investigating staff in the Limpopo premier's office following allegations of religious discrimination.

The investigation will focus on alleged statements and actions by Nana Manamela - the deputy director general in charge of corporate management services in the office of the premier.

Manamela allegedly discriminated against some staff members for belonging to the Zion Christian Church (ZCC). She also allegedly told other staff members that she doesn't want "members of the ZCC in the office".

The ZCC is one of the dominant churches in the province with its headquarters in Moria, outside Polokwane, where more than a million people gather during the Easter weekend every year.

The SAHRC previously launched the investigation into the allegations, but it was abandoned after alleged interference by the director general, Nape Nchabeleng.

Another investigator was appointed.

However, the SAHRC investigation was relaunched after an outcry from the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union.

In a letter to the union, which News24 has seen, the SAHRC said the initial investigation was halted due to interference with the investigation processes and procedures by the office of the director general.

"The SAHRC can, however, now confirm that it has taken a decision to proceed with its investigation on the allegations against the deputy director general in the office of the premier.

"The SAHRC is committed to conduct its investigation without fear, favour or prejudice," SAHRC provincial manager Victor Mavhidula said.

Acting provincial spokesperson Mamogo Ntuli confirmed to News24 that the SAHRC investigation was under way.

However, Ntuli denied that there was interference in the initial investigation.

'The truth shall set me free'

She said: "[An earlier] meeting was convened between the two parties whereby the terms of reference was agreed upon. The director general did not interfere in the investigation at all.

"The impasse arose when the SAHRC demanded that a communique be circulated to all employees alerting them of their presence and the reasons thereof.

"This was deviating from the actual mandate given for the investigation, which was based on a complaint lodged by specific members of staff alleging victimisation on religious grounds.

"The office was left with no choice but to appoint another investigator to get to the bottom of the matter because it is pivotal to gather facts to inform us if there was any contravention of labour prescripts in the workplace," Ntuli said.

She said the office of the premier would co-operate with the SAHRC in its investigation.

"The office views the SAHRC as one of the Chapter 9 institutions which are important pillars of our constitutional democracy and will therefore co-operate with the institution within the parameters of the law," she said.

Nchabeleng did not want to discuss the matter, but referred enquiries to Ntuli.

Manamela has denied that she ever expressed displeasure with staff who are members of the ZCC.

She told News24 that the problem started when changes were made to the organogram in the office of the premier. Some members were not happy with the changes, she said.

"I'm going to cooperate with the investigation. The truth shall set me free," Manamela said.

Read more on:    sahrc  |  polokwane  |  religion
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