22 February 2024

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) in the Free State province is set to take to the streets once again, presenting its memorandum to the Minister of COGTA and the NCOP after submitting a memorandum to the MEC and expressing the intention to launch an investigation into the Matjhabeng local municipality. SAMWU is expressing concern over the sluggish pace of the MEC, raising questions about his political will, especially considering the deep crisis the municipality is facing.

Details of the march are as follows:

– Date: Friday, 23 February 2024

– Time: 09h00 (Assembly time)

– Assembling point: Orange circle, next to Sasol garage

– Destination: Matjhabeng Local Municipality

SAMWU is mobilizing all its shop-stewards in the province to participate in the march, joined by COSATU Affiliates in the Matjhabeng area and other community-based structures.

The strike initiated by SAMWU in Matjhabeng commenced on 29 January 2024, marked by a protest march to deliver a memorandum of demands to the Executive Mayor of Matjhabeng Local Municipality, Councillor Thanduxolo Khalipa, and the MEC for COGTA, Honorable Member Ketso Makume. Despite the Executive Mayor rejecting the memorandum, the intervention of the MEC ensured its peaceful delivery amid a total lockout by the employer.

Following the memorandum handover, SAMWU faced an urgent interdict filed in the Labour Court in Gqeberha, Port Elizabeth. The court did not grant the municipality’s main prayer of declaring the strike unlawful and unprotected. Instead, the court outlined protocols for pursuing the strike, which SAMWU is adhering to.

The MEC responded by convening a meeting with SAMWU, led by COSATU, on 01 February 2024. While understanding the relevance of SAMWU’s concerns to his directorate and aligned with legislation, the MEC promised to start work from 19 February 2024, but no updates have been received to date.

The ANC, through its Provincial Secretary, has taken a stance against workers, rejecting them in favor of an individual allegedly causing the collapse of the municipality and undermining collective bargaining. The ANC’s directive has been witnessed through Municipalities being convened to Kaizer Sebothelo building in Bloemfontein, the provincial office of the ANC in the Free State. SAMWU has been declared a disruptive union, but the union asserts its commitment to protecting workers’ rights and defending its independence.

SAMWU aligns with COSATU politically, and despite challenges from the ANC, it remains steadfast in its political ideology and identity. SAMWU has consistently raised concerns about governance collapse in Free State Municipalities, refusing to stay silent against maladministration, fraud, and corruption perpetrated by ANC Deployees.

Despite the municipality’s efforts to thwart the strike, including legal actions and rejecting the application for a protest march, SAMWU remains resolute. The stress levels of the Municipal Manager of Matjhabeng have reached a peak, leading to a failure to recognize the constitutional right to a protest march scheduled for Friday, 23 February 2024.

Issued by SAMWU Free State Province

Tiisetso Mahlatsi, Provincial Secretary (079 152 9648)

Papikie Mohale, National Media Officer (076 795 8670)