Legal fight looms between Tshwane, Samwu over two metro police senior appointments
Pretoria - A legal fight is looming between the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) and the City of Tshwane over two senior appointments in the metro police department.
The union has expressed displeasure that the appointments were processed 11 months after the candidates had gone through the interviews, saying it was in contravention of the staffing policy.
The appointments in question were for deputy chief commissioners for regional policing, and for training and innovation.
They were announced by metro police chief Lieutenant-General Johanna Nkomo on December 29 in a letter, which the Pretoria News has seen. According to Nkomo, the commissioners’ appointments were made with effect from January 1.
Union regional chairperson Nkhetheni Muthavhi said: “This is a total violation of the City of Tshwane’s staffing policy, which is very clear that the appointments must be made within 90 days after the interviews.”
He said it was surprising for successful candidates to be appointed in December after they had gone through interviews in February last year.
Yesterday the union leaders were expected to consult with their lawyer with a view to crafting a way forward on the matter.
“We are going to challenge it. We are going to be consulting with our lawyer because we can’t allow this to happen,” he said.
Muthavhi said the union had no issues with the commissioners, but took “serious issues when there is a total violation of staffing policy”.
“Otherwise, we would be creating a precedent that all collective bargaining agreements mean nothing. We can’t undermine our own agreements,” he said.
MMC for Community Safety and Emergency Services, Karen Meyer, defended the appointments, saying the staffing policy did not stipulate a specific time frame for finalisation of positions after interviews.
The policy, she said, indicated that interviews must be conducted within three months after the closing date of an advertisement.
She emphasised that the City always sought to conclude its interview processes in the shortest possible time in the interests of operational efficiency.
“However, there are instances where there can be delays due to various reasons such as the availability of candidates, sudden changes in personal circumstances and other unforeseen situations. These delays do not automatically de-legitimise the processes that were followed up until the point of appointment,” Meyer said.
She said delays to fill the positions were due to numerous challenges, which included the nationwide lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The City was also placed under administration in March and ANC administrators took over. Without engaging on any appointment processes they subsequently placed a moratorium on the filling of positions. This caused immense disruption, particularly in the health service fronts,” she said.
Meyer said the positions in question were not the only positions that took longer than 90 days after interviews to be concluded.
“Samwu can of course choose to challenge this decision, and the City will meet them at the relevant platform should they pursue it. The City will justify why the appointments were delayed. It is disappointing to note that they would raise these issues in such a manner, though,” Meyer said.