The Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) is not in a financial position to make new appointments, spokesperson Lonwabo Kowa stated last week.
Kowa was responding to a call by the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) for all contract workers to be employed permanently.
The workers had protested outside the town hall before marching to the Chris Hani ANC office in Ebden Street a week earlier. They had intended to hand over a list of demands to ANC leaders, but were told the relevant official was not available at the time.
“We are sick and tired of a municipality that does not work. They are doing nothing. The township is dirty. The municipality must work because they do get money, and the budget came out recently too,” said one angry worker.
The workers also accused EMLM of failing to deliver on resolutions, including a “binding contract” on the absorption of contract workers, taken at a previous Local Labour Forum (LLM).
“We have 21 items on the table that have not been responded to since 2016. One of the key things is a binding contract of absorption of contract workers, yet to date not all of them have been absorbed,” Samwu local secretary, Thabo Ngwane, said.
The Rep spoke to a middle-aged man who has been a contract worker at EMLM for the past eight years. Mangaliso Ncapayi said he joined the municipality in 2013. “I live with my mother and work for her. I get R4 500 a month. I have insurance, I have children. I am not happy with EMLM. I have eight years to go before I retire and am still a contract worker. I want to be employed permanently and get benefits.”
However, Kowa said while the municipality was committed to implementing resolutions of the LLF, “It is a fact that Enoch Mgijima Municipality is not in a financial position where new appointments can be made at this stage. Currently, only critical positions can be filled until the financial status quo improves. Implementation of the financial recovery plan is in full swing and regular reports are given to the cooperative governance and traditional affairs department (Cogta) and treasury.”
On the workers’ allegations that they did not have work equipment, he said the matter was receiving attention and would be rectified if found to be true.
Ngwane earlier said: “You will notice none of the municipality’s workers have work clothes and equipment and as stakeholders Samwu is concerned in terms of service delivery.”
He added that a promise had been made that the intervention of Section 139 of the Constitution would bring help provide the necessary financial and infrastructural resources. “But we do not see anything happening except that Section 139 is not working across the country. As we go towards the elections we feel the section must be reviewed and the current administrator has been here for about two years, but we do not know what is happening,” said Ngwane.
Kowa said Section 139 was invoked by Cogta and the department would conduct its review.
He said municipal administration was operating normally and reports of discord were unfounded. This after the workers suggested conflict in the administration.
Kowa said there would be an internal investigation into the protest as there was no approved protest action by workers. He confirmed they had returned to work after the action.
The workers said they had gone to the ANC office because: “This council is led by the ANC, so those people [in the council] who we think are dragging their feet in giving us answers, are deployed by the ANC. We went to let them know that the people they deployed are taking us nowhere.”
ANC Chris Hani secretary Lusanda Sizani told The Rep on Wednesday he had received the workers’ demands and forwarded them to the EMLM. He also stated that the workers had since had a meeting with Cogta MEC Xolile Nqatha.
He could not comment on the contents or outcomes of the meeting as he was not part of it, he said.