Suspended Amatola Water CEO in renewed battle to return to work

In hot water Vuyo Zitumane, the suspended CEO of the Amatola Water Board, faces 21 charges.
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Axed Amatola Water CEO Vuyo Zitumane has gone back to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration to ask it to compel the Water Board to allow her to resume her duties and pay her the R736,000 the CCMA awarded her during arbitration.

Zitumane’s lawyers requested that her laptop be prepared for pickup on Monday, and her e-mail access be reactivated.

On Saturday, Amatola Water wrote to Zitumane to say it had taken its case against her to the labour court to review the CCMA decision that she should resume her duties on Monday August 17.

Through an acting CEO, Boniswa Hele, the board held a special media briefing on Saturday, telling journalists that “we want to make it categorically clear that we will be taking the CCMA arbitration outcome on review”.

In essence, she was not allowed to resume her duties as her suspension remained in place until the labour court finalises the matter, according to Hele.

At the time of her suspension Zitumane alleged she was being targeted because she refused to break supply chain regulations, despite pressure from water & sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu and her advisers.

On Monday, acting on behalf of Zitumane, Java Attorneys director Java Mama, replying to Hele’s stance that Zitumane was unwelcome back at work, wrote to the board indicating its letter was “not the equivalent to an order suspending the implementation of the award”.

Mama said without proper authority suspending the CCMA award, Zitumane has to report for duty.

Preventing her from resuming her duties came “despite her readiness to resume duties,” said Mama.

“She finds it astonishing that the Amatola Water Board is so hell-bent on her not reporting for duty given the fact that they are not even conducting an investigation against her.

“She therefore could not resume work in light of the entity’s refusal to comply with the award. In exploring legal avenues open to her she has, this morning [Monday], made an application to the CCMA initiating enforcement proceedings in terms of section 143 of the Labour Relations Act,” said Mama.

Mama said the enforcement application was going through CCMA processes.

“Though we are a country of laws, we ostensibly move from different perspectives in so far as the rule of law is concerned. Unfortunately, there is not much one can do if the gates to the office precinct are closed.

“Ms Zitumane cannot break down the doors of the entity and force her way to her desk. As a mere creature of the law, she cannot do anything other than exercise available avenues in law.

“About the labour court application, Amatola Water has had as from Thursday [last week] to draft the review application papers. We have as yet to receive a labour court application,” said Mama.

Amatola Water Board spokesperson Nosisa Sogayise confirmed the matter had been taken on review to the labour court. She said in terms of section 145 of the Labour Relations Act, there is an allowance of six weeks set aside to do so after the award.

“Tomorrow [Tuesday] Amatola Water Board is filing for the stay of executing the CCMA award.”

Sogayisa said the CCMA outcome was the result of the delays in the disciplinary processes due to extensive investigation. “Ms Vuyo Zitumane still faces over 20 charges to which she must answer to.”

By Sandiso Phaliso – DispatchLIVE

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