The SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) members at Msunduzi have asked for Premier Sihle Zikalala’s urgent intervention to save the province’s capital from rampant maladministration and mismanagement.
They made the plea during Friday’s march to the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Legislature, which brought Pietermaritzburg to a standstill, causing traffic gridlocks around the city.
Samwu secretary Nhlanhla Dlamini said they needed Zikalala’s help to restore hope and dignity in the workers and citizens of the municipality.
“We cannot allow Msunduzi to be made a ghost town, a filthy city, a lawless town,” he said.
He said ordinarily they would take their grievances to the MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Sipho Hlomuka, but he was already represented by the administrator, Scelo Duma, at the City Hall.
He said they noted the effort made by Cogta to assist but the interventions by both the administrators had not succeed and “the municipality is in a worse situation than before”.
Dlamini said the fact that Msunduzi was under administration for the second time was confirmation that “it is dysfunctional, corrupted as well as being looted”. The union has no hope that the situation can return to normal soon as they alleged that the management structure had collapsed.
The areas that they asked Zikalala to intervene in include the non-adherence to policies and the lack of implementation of council resolutions by management. They also alleged there are preferential recruitment practices at City Hall where friends and relatives are hired over skilled and qualified candidates.
Dlamini said the strategic management committee also needed to be tamed as it acts like a monopoly and did not honour engagements with the local labour forum. Said staff grievances were also not attended to and some dated as far back as 2018 with no hope of resolution, he said.
Samwu was also concerned that the importance of the training and development of municipal workers was disregarded yet the City spent millions of rands on preferred service providers who were made to do work that should be done by the internal staff.
Dlamini said Samwu was also against the outsourcing of the management of the landfill site and the crematorium, saying these facilities could be properly run by the internal staff if they were provided with the tools of trade. He said the two facilities were deliberately crippled and ignored by Msunduzi.
“No rehabilitation of the landfill site has ever been done and no proper equipment has ever been procured for the crematorium ...
“There are employees with vast experience in these areas but they are not utilised. The municipality only provides new and better equipment when external service providers are used,” he said.
They demanded the insourcing of services that currently used consultants and contractors, saying even bodyguards could be provided by security guards employed by the municipality instead of getting security contractors.
“It would be way cheaper and the municipality will save money.”
Samwu also made allegations of victimisation by the internal auditors during investigations.
Dlamini said they had already raised this several times with the City management and the administrator, but it still continued.
“It is now used as an intimidation body to instil fear to employees,” he said.
He said they also wanted Zikalala to ensure that the City’s financial recovery plan was implemented because the municipality’s cash problems were getting worse. The people of Msunduzi were being misled to believe that it was the ordinary workers that were to blame, but investigations on the “irregular” expenditure on things like the SAP financial system were not done, he said.
“There are no strategies to collect and enhance revenue other than spending on unnecessary activities.”
Dlamini also blamed Msunduzi’s problems on poor planning, saying the workers on the ground did not know which service delivery programmes council wanted them to prioritise and when they should be done.
Deputy director-general in the premier’s office, Sibusiso Ngubane, said Zikalala would respond within the 14-day deadline given by Samwu. He said the premier was just as concerned about the instability, allegation of corruption and governance challenges in municipalities and that was the reason behind the deployment of task teams to councils like Ugu and others.