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“LIKE cancer, most organisations are infested with bullying in one form or another.”
That is the opening sentence on an article written by Dr Kwena Manamela for her column in the December issue of Tembisa Hospital’s in-house newsletter.
Intended to be an affirming piece about taking a stand against bullies within the workplace, Manamela’s article has instead alienated her from her superiors, with hospital CEO Dr Sandile Mfenyana recalling the 1 500 copies from being distributed. It costs the hospital about R30 000 to print the quarterly newsletter – money which has now gone to waste.
“I’ve been doing the wellness programme column for six years and there has never been a problem before.
“All of a sudden with this column things are different. People would come to me complaining about being harassed by supervisors or intimidated, so I was doing a general article on bullying in the workplace,” said Manamela.
The academic article does not point fingers at any manager for bullying employees, nor does it name anyone other than psychologists and authors who have researched bullying and effective management in the workplace.
In the article, Manamela wrote: “Managers have been described as ‘managers and damagers’ (BBC). According to Enron or WorldCom, organisations can develop shared psychosis, corporate psychosis, corporate narcissism or their own brand of Stalinism.
She goes on to quote from research she compiled from studies which indicated that bullies “are actually inept people who are not talented, (who) maybe have a rage against themselves that they express outward towards people they see as being better than themselves”.
So the question remains: Why did the CEO recall the newsletter?
Hospital spokesman Lesibana Ledwaba referred all queries to the Gauteng Department of Health.
Department spokesman Simon Zwane did not respond to phone calls, voicemails and an e-mail sent to him.
Mfenyana also did not respond to calls and SMSes.
Manamela said she had written another article in the November newsletter titled “Inner tears of the silenced” and that hospital employees came out saying she had helped them. “They thanked me for the article. I think the CEO has a problem with me. I don’t know what the problem is, but he has a problem and I’m not going to entertain it,” she said before referring further questions to Ledwaba.
Manamela ends off her article with a bit of advice. “Be careful with whom you are sharing your frustrations or reporting the bullying to as this might make the situation worse… Not every smiling face you come across is genuine; hyenas hide inside the sheep skins.”