Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: Sapa
Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: Sapa

Lindiwe Sisulu denies interfering in Amatola Water Board unionist’s dismissal

By Mashudu Sadike Time of article published Nov 22, 2021

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Pretoria - Former water and sanitation minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, has come out guns blazing against media reports claiming she interfered in the dismissal of an Amatola Water Board unionist asking for his re-instatement.

Sisulu, who is now tourism minister after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s latest Cabinet reshuffle, has reportedly been accused of trying to persuade the Amatola Water Board to reinstate controversial shop steward Victor Phumzile Totolo and pay him the more than R950 000 he lost due to the dismissal.

News reports claim Sisulu intervened by instructing the water utility in writing to give Totolo his job back.

However, Sisulu dismissed the reports, calling it propaganda and a deliberate misrepresentation of facts.

Her spokesperson Steve Motale said: “First, Minister Sisulu wants to put on record that she has never interfered in administrative matters of all departments and their entities that she has served. Regarding the reinstatement of the shop steward in question (Totolo), Minister Sisulu wishes to make it clear that it was purely the decision of the former Amatola Water Board chief executive Vuyo Zitumane, who subsequently resigned after adverse findings against her by a forensic investigation.”

Amatola has had its share of leadership instability during Sisulu’s tenure. She led something of a crusade against what she alleged was corruption at the country’s water boards and singled out the failure of state investigating agencies to follow up on her complaints.

The Amatola Water Board’s executive management was changed no fewer than four times in four months in 2020. Motale continued: “The minister’s 2019 diary contradicts claims of her interference in the matter. Furthermore, the shop steward’s letter of reinstatement was signed by the former CEO. The reinstatement of the shop steward was initiated by the same former CEO who, at the time, had a fight with the board and was seeking the minister’s intervention and the union’s support in her fight with the board.

“This is contained in the indictment sheet of the former Amatola Water Board CEO, who instead of clearing her name and defending herself in a disciplinary hearing, opted to resign.” He warned that Sisulu was acutely aware of a sponsored media campaign against her.

“This media campaign is orchestrated by those implicated in serious corruption, especially at Amatola Water Board, where criminal cases have been opened against former senior executives and politically-connected business people.”

Efforts to reach Amatola Water Board’s spokesperson, Nosisa Sogayise were fruitless by yesterday afternoon.

Pretoria News

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