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The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) in the Eastern Cape province has learnt with great concern the recent events at the Amathole District Municipality regarding the appointment of the Municipal Manager. These events have the potential to bring about instability in the institution which is already ailing as a result of failures in corporate governance and the financial situation which it finds itself in.
As per the procedures adopted by both labour and the municipality, SAMWU participated in the interview process intended on filling the vacancy as observers. We were however not happy with the irregularities that we identified during the shortlisting process and as such addressed a letter to the Executive Mayor who is also the chairperson of the appointment panel to register our displeasure at these irregularities.
Instead of addressing the irregularities, the Executive Mayor dismissed our objections and informed us that the municipality will be proceeding with the scheduled interviews which were characterised by irregularities. Despite our pleas with the MEC of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and a court interdict of the process, the municipality aided by the MEC and the Speaker of Council proceeded with the interviews.
Our main concern is that despite there being a court order interdicting the process, the Speaker failed to inform Council of the litigation process and allowed for the process to proceed. As SAMWU, we are convinced that both the Speaker and Executive Mayor are hellbent on concluding this process as they already have a candidate that they have earmarked to fill the vacancy, allowing them to use municipal resources to extend their wide web of patronage in the institution.
We have been consistent as SAMWU that the politicisation of the position of Municipal Manager has the potential to compromise service delivery as qualified and suitable candidates are overlooked in favour of politically connected individuals and those whose appointments seek to consolidate factional political party politics.
We are aware that the Executive Mayor and the Speaker have already used their influence at the municipality and the interview panel to recommend a candidate whom they favour politically. Fact remains that the interview process was littered with irregularities and as such should have been halted when these were brought to the attention of the Speaker and the Executive Mayor.
As SAMWU, we therefore call on Council to rescind its resolution of 16th May 2022 and that the interview process be nullified while the vacancy is readvertised to allow for a fair process that is not influenced by factional politics to be undertaken. We further call on the removal of both the Mayor and the Speaker as they have shown time and time again that they are not occupying their positions of power to stabilise the Amathole District Municipality nor are they interested in improving the lives of residents through improved service delivery but rather to advance their narrow and factional political agendas.
Should the Executive Mayor sign the appointment of this political entourage as a Municipal Manager, we will be left with no option but to approach the court for immediate relief. Workers are also ready to embark on a protest action to make known their dissatisfaction that arises out of the Executive Mayor and the Speaker seeking to treat the municipality as their personal property wherein they can do whatever they want.
As SAMWU, we believe that the challenges faced by the Amathole District Municipality have been manufactured by the failure by the municipality, in particular the Executive Mayor and the Speaker. As a union, we are interested in seeing this municipality being able to serve all residents and not become a cash cow for the political elite.
Issued by SAMWU Eastern Cape