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Former ANC political staff members threaten court action over lost jobs

Joburg City Council last Friday. Picture: Timothy Bernard/ African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Joburg City Council last Friday. Picture: Timothy Bernard/ African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Mar 15, 2022

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Johannesburg - Lawyers for former ANC political staff members who face an exit from the City of Joburg have threatened to go to court if they are not retained.

Early this month, the City announced that it would rescind the full-time employment of about 130 employees.

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

Lawyer Mojalefa Motalane told the media that Section 3 of the Constitution requires the City, when deciding to take the decisions that adversely affect its employees, to adhere to a procedurally fair administrative process which, in the circumstances, required not only adequate notice of the nature and purpose of the proposed administrative action, but a reasonable opportunity to make representations.

“It also demands a clear statement of the administrative action, when the administrative decision is to be implemented, as well as an indication of internal remedies in the form of appeals, if any.

“It is our clients' case that the notice is defective as the City seeks to make it seem as if there is another process that can be followed to safeguard our clients’ interests, when a Council resolution has already been issued. The invitation contained in the notice is further irregular and disingenuous as it is clear that the termination of our client's full-time employment was after the unlawful Council decision a fait accompli," he said.

Motalane said the invitation was an attempt to shroud the City.

“The further incongruity is that our clients were given 48 hours to respond to the Notice. “There is absolutely no reason given in the Notice or that can be gleaned from the resolutions that indicate a dire and urgent need to rescind the conversions immediately. Thus nothing justifies the shockingly inappropriate time frame that was given to our clients to file representations,” Motalane said.

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He added that Section 59 (3) (a) of the Municipal Systems Act indicates that the power to revoke a delegated power could be exercised, subject to rights that none has accrued.

“Our clients had as a result of the resolution taken by the mayoral committee for the city’s accrued real and direct interest in the conversion of the employment from fixed-term contracts to permanent contracts and vis a vis. The Council could not revoke this power without considering our clients’ accrued rights.

“The City is functus officio (principle in terms of which decisions of officials are deemed to be final and binding once they are made).

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“It is accepted in our law that an administrative decision once made by an administrator, wrong or right, remains valid in law. The decision remains valid until it is reviewed and set aside by a court of law,” Motalane said.

They’ve given the Council until Friday to rescind its decision.

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