Municipal workers furious over minister’s no-show at their summit

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Political Bureau

A NO-SHOW by Co-operative Government and Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi made municipal workers see red yesterday.

Delegates at the SA Municipal Workers Union(Samwu) national congress in Bloemfontein accused the minister of delivering a “slap in the face” and of “neo-liberal” tendencies when he sent a top official instead.

Acting director-general Muthotho Sigidi ended up leaving without saying a word.

One after the other, provincial representatives rose to express their outrage at the perceived snub, rejecting a proposal from Samwu’s leadership that Sigidi be allowed to speak.

“It’s insulting (of the minister) to send an official,” said a KwaZulu-Natal representative.

He accused Baloyi of pursuing a “neo-liberal agenda”.

Sigidi was politely sent back to his office with a message for his political boss: that he should come and address the congress today.

“When the alliance deployed ministers, it was with the understanding that they are revolutionary cadres who must account at all times,” said a Free State representative. “[The minister] must come here and account why he’s undermined [us] , and apologise to this congress that he had made an error by not honouring the invitation.”

Given the mood, it seems unlikely that Baloyi will comply.

But worse was to come.

Delegates grew angrier when it emerged that the Cosatu affiliate’s alliance partners were also giving them a cold shoulder.

It was late yesterday afternoon when delegates were told that ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, billed to speak earlier, was “still looking for someone to send”.

And SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande was nowhere to be seen – although a Samwu official said invitations to all speakers had been sent out two months ago.

SACP spokesman Malesela Maleka said no invitation had been received at the party’s head office.

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