Cape Town – Trade union Nehawu on Wednesday rolled out war talk after Parliament suspended two of its officials.
“We will fight him on the water, we will fight him from the skies, and on the ground,” the union’s branch chairperson Sthembiso Tembe told hundreds of colleagues in Green Market Square.
“And if he tries to kill us, we will haunt him from our graves,” he continued, paraphrasing a speech UK prime minister Winston Churchill made on June 4, 1940.
Tembe was referring to Secretary to Parliament Gengezi Mgidlana.
Parliament provisionally suspended Tembe and fellow union member Michael Sithole on Tuesday, for “inciting workers and disrupting a staff meeting” last week.
Nehawu members at Parliament went on strike on Wednesday. They would however be back at work from Thursday, pending a meeting with Parliament’s management next week, the union told News24.
“This is going to be a long battle and we are ready for it. Mgidlana is not ready,” he said.
There would not be peace until Mgidlana left, he said. Their intention however was not to disrupt Parliament. He criticised the process that led to his suspension.
Charge one, charge all
Workers said if Parliament charged and suspended one of its members, all of them had to receive the same treatment.
They called for a retired judge to preside over the pair’s disciplinary hearings. No parliamentary employees or law firm hired by Mgidlana should be in charge, they said.
Tembe and Sithole allegedly disrupted a staff meeting last week. Workers sang and danced as Mgidlana prepared to address a meeting.
Tembe was charged with gross misconduct and insubordination.
Parliament on Wednesday said the suspension of the officials did not suggest they were guilty of the charges.
“They remain employees of Parliament and continue to receive their usual remuneration pending the outcome of internal disciplinary processes,” it said in a statement.
Parliament was not notified of Wednesday’s strike. The institution is regarded as an essential service.