The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) in the Northern Cape is calling on urgent intervention by the Provincial Government at the Thembelihle Local Municipality. The municipality which covers areas such as Hopetown, Orania and Strydenburg has for the last four months been on autopilot, without executive leadership which has resulted in limited-service delivery and more worryingly, the non-payment of workers’ salaries for the month of January.
In December 2022, the Municipal Manager, who is the accounting officer of the municipality tendered his resignation. This was recently followed by the suspension of the municipality’s CFO and other senior managers. As a result, the municipality does not have any person with the authority to sign off payments that are supposed to be made for operations.
Workers at the municipality have as a result, did not receive their January 2023 salaries, while third parties such as medical aid and pension funds are over a year in arrears. As SAMWU, we are of the view that the administrative instability at the municipality cannot be delinked from the political instability within Council, wherein the Council Speaker is embroiled in legal battles to be declared a legitimate Speaker by the Courts.
As a result of the political infighting and instability, Council cannot sit to appoint an acting Municipal Manager or CFO who would ensure that both workers and service providers are paid for work done. This instability has not only prejudiced workers but also compromised service delivery for residents of the municipality.
As SAMWU, we therefore call for urgent intervention by the Provincial Government through Section 139 of the Constitution. The current Councillors have proven to be hopelessly unable to fulfil their duties and as such, an administrator should be appointed to oversee the general administration of the municipality. If needs be, the municipality should be dissolved, and fresh elections held to elect people who have the interest of workers and residents at heart.
We will also be laying criminal charges against the former Municipal Manager who has essentially stolen workers’ monies by making deductions against their salaries but not paying over that money to third parties. The recent arrest of the former Kai !Garib Municipal Manager is testament that failing to pay over statutory deductions is a criminal offenses which should be taken seriously by all municipalities in the province.
We will, as workers also be withdrawing our labour force in the municipality until all workers have received their January salaries. We will not allow our members and workers to be turned into slaves by politicians who are only in Council to advance their interests. We are fully aware of the consequences that will come as a result of this unprecedented decision, as community members, we too will not be receiving services.
We cannot however have a situation wherein workers report for duty on an empty stomach, when they are being chased by creditors and when their children cannot go to school and are starving at home. If the Provincial Government really cares for the people of Thembelihle and workers, an intervention team will be urgently dispatched.
Issued by SAMWU Northern Cape
071 889 2023
Decarna Regional Secretary
071 269 1470