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Samwu set to interdict City of Joburg mayor over ’illegal permanent contracts’

FILE PICTURE: Matthews Baloyi

FILE PICTURE: Matthews Baloyi

Published Mar 23, 2022

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Johannesburg - The South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) in Joburg has instructed its lawyers to interdict the City of Joburg against its decision to terminate the “illegal permanent contracts” given to former ANC political staff members.

Earlier this month, City of Joburg mayor Dr Mpho Phalatse argued that the process to illegally convert the fixed-term contracts initially began on February 21 last year while the late Geoff Makhubo was mayor and ANC chairman in Joburg.

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Dr Phalatse said the second conversion happened on October 19 last year during the short-term tenure of Mpho Moerane following the death of his predecessor Jolidee Matongo.

She also said Moerane approved the conversions despite an instruction from the South African Local Government Association (Salga), which was circulated on the same day, which gave a directive on the role of political staff members and their attachment to political principals.

Yesterday, Samwu regional chairperson Ester Mtatyana confirmed that they had instructed their lawyers to file papers in court to interdict the City.

“We have instructed our lawyers to file in court after the City failed to accede to our demand to rescind the termination of the contracts,” Mtatyana said.

She, however, did not say when the City would be served with the papers. The City aims to terminate their contracts next month.

Last week, union lawyer Lawyer Mojalefa Motalane told the media that Section 3 of the Constitution requires that whenever the City makes decisions that adversely affect its employees, it is to adhere to a procedurally fair administrative process.

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“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," Motalane said.

He added: “The invitation contained in the notice is further irregular and disingenuous as it is clear that the termination of our clients’ full-time employment was after the unlawful Council decision a fait accompli."

Meanwhile, mayoral spokesperson Mabine Seabe said the City has not been served with such papers, saying they would oppose the application if the union goes ahead.

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“It is a matter of compliance with the law and not a matter of labour,” Seabe said.

This week, Phalatse is expected to give answers to Gauteng's MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Lebogang Maile about her council’s decision to terminate the contracts for former ANC political staff members.

Phalatse has until Thursday to do so after Maile wrote a letter, asking for an explanation.

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Maile’s spokesperson Lupi Ngcayisa said Maile wrote a letter to Phalatse on March 17, asking her to provide the MEC with a comprehensive report on the disputed employment status of approximately 130 employees.

“It is common knowledge that the matter pertaining to the employment status of 130 municipal employees has, almost on a daily basis, received wide negative media coverage, with allegations and counter-allegations of impropriety being hurled from various quarters.

“As the MEC responsible for local government in the province, I am concerned that the ongoing dispute among the affected parties may have the very real likelihood of causing instability in the municipality that can potentially compromise the City’s ability to provide the residents of Johannesburg with effective and efficient basic services," Maile said in the letter.

Meanwhile, Ngcayisa said that instead of relying solely on media reports, Maile deemed it appropriate and courteous to request Phalatse to provide him with a comprehensive report on this matter.

In reaction, Seabe said Phalatse was studying the letter and would respond.

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Political Bureau

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