Cape Town - Western Cape Social Development MEC Albert Fritz has come under fire for threatening to take disciplinary action against provincial department staff who attended a national government event in Beaufort West recently.
In e-mail correspondence leaked to the Cape Times, Fritz, a DA MPL, responds to provincial Social Development Department head Robert MacDonald, threatening to lodge insubordination charges against “any staff members who participate” in the event hosted by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini.
Dlamini recently visited Beaufort West, where the department hosted a community imbizo to look into the abuse and neglect of people with disabilities.
Prior to visiting the Karoo town, Dlamini had arranged for blankets to be handed to pensioners and invited social workers from Fritz’s department to take part.
After receiving Dlamini’s invitation, MacDonald e-mailed Fritz.
“Hi Minister, would you like us to participate in this as per invitation from the Minister’s Office? Regards, Robert,” MacDonald’s e-mail read.
Fritz responded: “Hi Robert, This will really be your call. I think it’s a waste of time as our social workers are required to deliver services to the community all the time, not only when the minister arrived.
“We must really watch out not to let our social workers and community development practitioners get caught up in these political games.
“I (sic) view is, our staff is suppose to deliver services at our local and regional offices. So it’s a no from me!! Also remind any staff members who participate in this event will be charged for insubordination!!!! With kind regards, Minister Fritz.”
The ANC parliamentary constituency office head in Beaufort West, Trudy Dijana, read a motion in the legislature last week slating Fritz.
“The house commends national Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini for caring for the Beaufort West community and handing out blankets at a recent visit to the elderly pensioners, and further notes that provincial DA MEC Albert Fritz pettily prohibited Western Cape Social Development staff to attend this official event and even threatened them with disciplinary action if they did,” she said.
Fritz’s spokesperson, Sihle Ngobese, responded on his behalf on Sunday, but failed to account for Fritz’s threat.
He said the provincial department prioritised quality service delivery.
“This means all our staff are dispatching their duties in line with targets set within the department and expectations from the public we serve.
“Taking front-line service delivery staff off their duties to participate in political public relations exercises is not something this province will begin to do, no matter how much the ANC demands we start doing it for the sake of their national party leadership,” Ngobese said.
He said under the leadership of Fritz, and MacDonald, the department is “notching up” country-leading service delivery practices.
“The greatest beneficiaries of this have been the Western Cape public, and not party politicians looking to buy votes using state resources, staff and time,” Ngobese added.
The ANC in the Western Cape has lashed Fritz “in the strongest possible terms” for working against the constitution.
ANC spokesperson Yonela Diko said: “In instructing his provincial government staff to work against the national government Minister of Social Development in Beaufort West community, he is effectively crippling the interdependency of the three spheres of government and this will effectively affect the well-being of the republic.
“The constitution further states that all spheres of government must assist and support one another, and clearly Fritz considers these niceties that must be sacrificed at the altar of political expediency.”
Diko said the ANC would investigate whether Fritz’s behaviour violated the constitution. “Holding a provincial government clearly makes their opposition status too pronounced and they become reactionary,” Diko said.
“This, however, is the work of government and it has to rise above political immaturity.”