Free State ANC finally breaks its silence regarding Matjhabeng

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The African National Congress (ANC) in the Free State has finally broken its silence regarding the developments that have been transpiring at the Matjhabeng Municipality in Welkom. The party has cautioned members of the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) who have held more than five protests, so far against the Executive Mayor Thanduxolo Khalipha, since last year.

The union has been demanding the removal of Khalipha, citing among others, political interference, financial misconduct and ill treatment of workers. The last protest that the disgruntled municipal workers embarked on was last week Friday and they vowed not to participate in the upcoming general elections if their demands are not met.

Matjhabeng Municipality | SAMWU calls for Mayor’s removal amid allegations of financial misconduct:

The ANC finally broke its silence.

“It must be resolved, and it shall be resolved, but in resolving this, we will not back down to demands that we believe that are not helping us…We’ve got to rehabilitate our own workers from this, being indebted to the loan sharks and some of these and some of these loan sharks are not really supposed to be operating. We will not allow that to happen and that is going to be a challenge for us because others were benefitting from getting workers to do that. In some instances, we have issues where we have to deal with the leadership in the municipality itself,” says Mxolisi Dukwana, ANC Free State Chairperson.

The municipal workers feel misunderstood.

“It’s unfortunate that the leadership of the ANC, chose the route to lie to society about the facts that informed the strike of Matjhabeng local municipality. The statement that the strike is about non-payment of service provider, admission of loan sharks and payment of overtime are a fabrication of facts and are misleading. We have given the leadership of the ANC our memorandum of what we’re fighting for. We further submitted a memorandum to the MEC of COGTA of the issues that we’re raising, nothing of the three are part of that,” says Tiisetso Mahlatsi, SAMWU Free State Secretary.

The ANC believes such matters can be dealt with, without disgruntled workers downing tools.

“They need to understand that as a leader, you cannot be intransigent, you have to listen to the people, you’ve got to take advice and you’ve got to provide proper leadership. Those are some of the things that are lacking in some institutions and I think these are things that we need to correct and in engaging all our municipalities, it is the tone that we’ll be setting up, that we’re not going to tolerate anything that takes away from serving the people. And focusing on issues that we believe could have been attended to, that could be avoided and not allow people to go on strike just on issues that could have been dealt with in the first place,” Dukwana elaborates.

The union says it has raised discrepancies that they want the municipality to address. They’re disappointed that the ANC’s intervention is not what they hoped for.

“All these issues that they’re making noise and lying to the society about, lacks truth in it and we don’t know and we don’t know what is the intention of the leadership to deliberately lie to the society and to the public at large and we don’t know what is making and we don’t know what interest do they have in the municipality. If they are objective enough, they were supposed to have entered the space and intervened and the ANC knows for a fact that on the 24th of February they called us to a meeting, where they requested the leadership of SAMWU to be there led by COSATU, unfortunately they convened us to a meeting where Matjhabeng was not part of that meeting and we raised that concern and we agreed that the meeting is adjourned. They will convene the affected parties and we’ll continue from there and since then they have not convened us.”

SAMWU says it’s unfortunate that the ANC has rejected workers’ demands on several occasions over an individual who is collapsing the municipality. They claim that they have nothing to hide and it’s up to the society to judge them.

The union has emphasized that their protected strike will continue until their demands are met.