We will lay criminal charges against those who have captured our union - Samwu

2018-02-23 15:32
Provincial chairperson Nkhetheni Muthavhi and Vuyani Singonzo. (Nation Nyoka, News24)

Provincial chairperson Nkhetheni Muthavhi and Vuyani Singonzo. (Nation Nyoka, News24)

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Johannesburg - The embattled South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) has lambasted the capture of the union and has threatened to institute charges and use the courts to address their leadership crisis.

Speaking in Braamfontein, Johannesburg on Thursday, provincial chairperson Nkhetheni Muthavhi said they would follow due legal process to resolve the impasse of having parallel structures and leaders, who were placed in positions without following due process.

"If people think that state capture is only happening in the state, even our unions have been captured, and they are captured by people who are supposed to be leading the union… so we are taking our matter to the Labour Appeal Court to end the Guptarisation of Samwu," Muthavhi said.

He said that the union has been on a downward spiral since the election of the leadership at their elective conference in 2015/2016, which has resulted in whistleblowers, at regional and provincial level, being purged.

"Just after the election of those leaders, there started to be expulsions, terminations, suspensions of structures and members of the union and leaders alike…and those terminations were done unlawfully or outside the prescripts of the Constitution," he said, adding that he was once fired via WhatsApp while leading a march.

Muthavhi added that the KwaZulu-Natal structure was disbanded without reason, despite the fact that a structure can only be disbanded by the central executive committee. He added that those who asked questions about processes were intimidated into silence.

He accused Samwu president Pule Molalenyane's faction of being captured by the South African Local Government Association (Salga) and of being money and power hungry while shop stewards remain poor.

Muthavhi commended the City of Johannesburg for the reinstatement of chairperson Vuyani Singonzo, who was present at the full briefing. 

Singonzo was reinstated after an independent arbitration in 2017 after being unfairly dismissed for bringing up a range of issues, including corruption and abuse of power at City Power and Pikitup.

"Criminal [charges] are going to [be laid] against those who might have squandered the monies of the union, and they are going to account," said Singonzo.

'Ridiculous' accusations

He said that management and Salga was also to blame for the leadership issues currently faced by Samwu.

"If [management] was not recognising [leaders who were placed and not elected], Samwu would not be in the mess that it is in…they can come as bogus leadership and management will say: 'We accept you now as a legitimate faction. You guys, we don't accept you'," he said.

Muthavhi called out protestors who attacked shop stewards on Tuesday, saying that charges would be laid against them. He accused them of being used by the previous administration. 

Molalenyane shrugged off Mutavhi's accusations as "ridiculous".

"They want to create instability within the union," said Molalenyane.

"There were allegations against the former leadership for the misappropriation of funds and they did not want a forensic investigation. We got Ernst and Young to conduct the forensic investigation and they are panicking because they cannot bribe this company."

Muthavhi said, although the election of President Cyril Ramaphosa last week had revived the hope of many South Africans, the 2018 budget speech which took place on Wednesday had made workers despondent, as the effect of the increase in VAT would be felt by the poor.

He said the speech had left the union with more questions than answers, particularly on the issue of free education and land expropriation without compensation.

The union will be going to the Labour Appeal Court on February 27 to challenge leadership issues.

Muthavhi said their request to picket had been granted, and they were expecting thousands to show support.

Read more on:    samwu  |  johannesburg

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