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COJ mayor Mpho Phalatse denies political witch-hunt

City of Joburg mayor Dr Mpho Phalatse Picture: Itumeleng English-African News Agency(ANA)

City of Joburg mayor Dr Mpho Phalatse Picture: Itumeleng English-African News Agency(ANA)

Published Mar 8, 2022

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Gauteng: City of Joburg mayor Mpho Phalatse has appealed to labour unions and political parties not to “mislead the public” about the impending sacking of 130 former political staffers of the ANC.

This comes as the South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) has threatened legal action after the City on March 4 announced that it would rescind the full-time employment of about 130 employees.

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According to the City, the previous administration had illegally converted the fixed-term contract of political staff members, making them permanent without following due processes.

Samwu on Tuesday said it was consulting with its attorneys over the decision.

But Phalatse hit back, saying the Johannesburg Multi-Party Government (MPG) had noted reckless and baseless statements made by unions and political parties that sought to distract the public from the facts surrounding the former Mayoral Committee’s illegal contract conversion of senior City of Johannesburg personnel attached to political offices.

"We are not dealing with a political or labour matter but one of compliance with the law that was flouted when the former Mayoral Committee adopted a report, without council’s approval, to convert the fixed-term contracts of senior staff attached to political offices," she said.

According to Phalatse, at a projected cost of at least R80 million a year, it would not only be costly for the City to turn a blind-eye to the irregular employment of 130 (and growing) staff, but it would be a violation of both the Municipal Systems Act and the Municipal Finance Management Act; laws both the council and its employees are bound by.

“To add further, the continued irregular employment of the political staff cripples the ability of the new administration to hire staff who share the same values as the government of the day, which will have far-reaching implications for good governance and service delivery objectives as mandated by the electoral outcome.”

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She added that the staff served with notices to regularise (return their contract to their original form) were appointed and contracted at a senior level to serve political offices linked to the term of office of the elected politician they were attached to.

The City received a legal notice on March 4 by Samwu representing the 130 staff members over its consultation with its members, prompting the acting City manager to halt dishing out outstanding notices until tomorrow (March 9).

“We, therefore, find it curious and disingenuous of Samwu to choose to ’outline the course of action that will be taken’ through a media briefing, rather than through the established and functional channel they used to seek and receive compassion from the City and the MPG,” she said.

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Phalatse said in the face of deliberate mistruths being peddled, the City and MPG have stuck to the factual and legal parameters of the matter with the aim of it reaching its natural conclusion.

“It is worth questioning why the lawful decision of the council and Multi-Party Government is being challenged politically and in the media but not before the courts of law as is generally the practice. We must question why those who are confident that the decision was unlawful are not prepared to place any facts before the council itself and the courts of our land,” said Phalatse.

She claimed that the ANC, realising their looming electoral misfortunes, the former Mayoral Committee engineered a scheme to permanently capture the City’s political offices with no regard for the monetary and personal cost and the adverse effect it would have on service delivery.

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Political Bureau

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