280709 SAMWU and IMATU members who are on strike marched in the streets of Johannesburg and threw rubbish out of dustbins. Here they pretend to be asleep on the street. Picture: Ziphozonke Lushaba

Cape Town -

Members of the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) have called for the union’s leaders to be suspended following allegations of misappropriation and missing union funds.

Samwu president Sam Molope poured cold water on the allegations and said they were baseless.

On Thursday night, Samwu leaders from Gauteng, including provincial secretary Mohau Mokgatla, were consulting lawyers to consider bringing an urgent court interdict to prevent national leaders from holding a “clandestine” national executive meeting.

Earlier this week expelled and suspended Samwu members in the Western Cape held meetings across the province and called for the suspension of national leaders and the establishment of a forensic investigation.

Molope said there were no grounds for allegations that R140 million of union funds were misappropriated or missing.

“Those allegations are unfounded and baseless,” Molope said.

Molope said Samwu’s central executive committee met about a week ago to discuss the allegations, and auditors recently found their books were in order.

Molope said the members who made these calls were in the minority.

“The minority must listen to what the majority is saying,” he said.

Molope said these allegations did not affect the stability of the union.

Samwu’s expelled Western Cape chairman Lance Veotte welcomed “the actions of the Johannesburg workers in their occupation” of the union’s national office on Thursday.

He was asked to leave the union three weeks ago. “The workers are demanding accountability from the national leadership, who are refusing to account to the members, regarding the prima facie evidence of gross financial mismanagement of the union finances,” Veotte said.

This week Samwu members in Cape Town held meetings to discuss what they said was the “poor” state of the union’s finances.

Samwu’s suspended provincial secretary, Andre Adams, addressed local members about the management of funds this week.

Cape Town-based shop steward Nadine Simons said members were angry at national leaders.

“They want to know where our membership funds are going and the national leaders are not giving any answers,” said Simons, who was suspended by the regional membership last week.

A document was circulated at the meetings that called into question: the contract to buy photocopying and fax machines; the management of Samwu’s reserve funds for education, funeral cover and strike insurance; the renovation work at Samwu’s Johannesburg offices; and the payment of a consultant.

The expelled leaders said the Western Cape and four other provinces - Gauteng, North West, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga - were of the view that these national leaders were not suitable to hold office.

Cape Metro regional secretary Mikel Khumalo said he did not support the statements issued by some members and expelled members in the province.

“If they were in a majority why has the central executive committee not decided to investigate this matter?” he asked. “We must maintain order in the union.”

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Cape Times