COSATU supports SAMWU’s decision to challenge the Municipal Systems Amendment Act in the Constitutional Court

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) supports its affiliated union, the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU)’s decision to challenge the constitutionality of the Municipal Systems Amendment Act in the Constitutional Court. 

The Municipal Systems Amendment Act of 2022 is fundamentally flawed and simply unconstitutional.  The Amendment Act introduced a new blanket ban on all 350 000 municipal employees from holding office at any level in a political party. 

The original draft of the Bill that had been agreed to by the ANC led Alliance and government was to only apply this limitation of political association to municipal managers and the senior managers reporting directly to them.

This agreement and provisions were quietly and clumsily amended by Parliament on the instigation of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and extended to include all municipal employees.  This has taken it from being a narrow limitation of the rights of a few, to the blanket prohibition of the rights of all municipal employees. 

The motivation for the original limitation of rights of municipal managers was based upon the belief that when such managers held office in a political party they could undermine or overrule the Mayors and Mayoral Committee Councillors they were meant to account to. 

To extend this to include municipal security guards, cleaners and refuse collectors is at best ludicrous and a shocking attack on the constitutional rights of workers.  If this undermining of the Constitution is allowed to stand, it will later be extended to public servants, SOE employees and eventually private sector workers. This will be a slippery slope to the eroding of our hard-won democracy.

Thousands of municipal employees are now receiving letters from their managers warning them that unless they stand down from whichever position they may hold in their political party, they will be dismissed from their jobs.

The Federation has raised this matter repeatedly with the Ministry for Cooperative Governance, the ANC, and Parliament.  Despite their agreeing that this must be corrected through an Amendment Bill, they have yet to do so. 

SAMWU previously took an earlier version of this Amendment Act to the Constitutional Court and won.  The Federation is pleased that they have decided to do so again and will be supporting SAMWU in this defense of workers’ hard-won constitutional rights.

Issued by COSATU 

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911Cell: 060 975 6794