Johannesburg - Cosatu and the SACP in Gauteng have rebuffed calls for the resignations of two provincial cabinet members following deadly fires at a government building which claimed the lives of three firefighters.
On Thursday, Cosatu secretary Dumisani Dakile said the DA's calls for the resignations of Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa and Infrastructure MEC Jacob Mamabolo were premature despite both of them knowing that the building was not safe for occupation.
DA health spokesperson Jack Bloom had earlier said Premier David Makhura should fire them after Mamabolo had admitted that he had been aware a few months ago that the building “was a health hazard”.
The DA has indicated that it is exploring a possibility of bringing culpable homicide charges against the provincial government.
DA's premier-candidate-elect Solly Msimanga said: “I have therefore asked our legal team to explore if there is criminal culpability on the part of the provincial government and the politicians who allowed this to happen”.
Dakile said he had set up a meeting with Makhura and the two MECs “to go just deeper into the service-level agreement between the health department and the owners of the building”.
He said before his union could make any pronouncement on the future of Ramokgopa and Mamabolo, their immediate focus was to find answers about the continued occupation of the building by three government departments.
“A service-level agreement must meet certain specifics. We want to know what those specifics were. Why was the building not maintained? Who was supposed to maintain it?” Dakile said.
According to him, concerns about the unsuitability of the building were raised while former health MEC Qedani Mahlangu was at the helm.
Dakile said 18 Nehawu shop stewards were placed on suspension for allegedly raising the safety of the building with her.
“In April this year, I led a march to the department about the same matter. I did not get an acknowledgement or response about the safety of the building.
“Who has been benefiting? We want to go to the core of the issue. We are not dealing with a new phenomenon,” Dakile insisted.
While Cosatu was questioning the ownership of the buildings, the SACP in Gauteng said the Bank of Lisbon was 100% owned by the provincial government.
SACP provincial chairman Joe Mpisi also condemned the call for the resignation of Mamabolo, the party's provincial secretary.
“The DA is not worried about the deaths and injuries of some of the firefighters,” Mpisi said.
“It is just playing politics. It is their electioneering programme.”
He said Mamabolo had already indicated that he would take responsibility “if investigations point to him”.
According to Mpisi, seven other buildings which were also found to be unsuitable for occupation belonged to private owners.