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 matter will be heard at the Labour Court Thursday 12 October.

The Municipal Systems Amendment Act of 2022 is fundamentally flawed, dangerous 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 Amendment Act that had been agreed to by the ANC led Alliance and government and that was tabled at Parliament was to only apply this limitation of political association to municipal managers and the senior managers reporting directly to them.  These 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 constitutional 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 Committees they account to.  To extend this to include municipal security guards, cleaners, electricians and refuse collectors is ludicrous and a shocking attack on workers’ constitutional rights.  If this undermining of the Constitution is allowed to stand, it will later be extended to public servants, parastatal 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 resign from any position they may hold in a political party, they will be dismissed from their jobs.

COSATU has raised this matter repeatedly with the Minister for Cooperative Governance, the ANC and Parliament.  Despite their agreeing that it must be corrected through an Amendment Bill, they have dismally failed to act. 

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

Issued by COSATU

For further comment please contact:
Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687