16 May 2023
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) fully supports the objections made by the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) to the amendments to the Municipal Systems Act to prohibit municipal workers from holding office in political parties.
These proposed amendments have no real objective except to take away the constitutional rights of municipal workers entrenched in the Bill of Rights. Our constitution amongst others guarantees freedom of association and other political rights. Membership and holding office in a political party is an entrenched right which can only be limited in line with the constitution. There is currently no basis in fact and in law to limit the rights of municipal workers from holding office in political parties and being employed in senior positions in municipalities.
The process of appointment of staff in the entire public administration is regulated, there are processes and systems in place to ensure that proper appointments are made. The labour laws are clear that employees and potential employees cannot be discriminated against simply because they hold certain political views or beliefs or associate with certain political parties. The proposed amendments have nothing to do with professionalising local government but to eliminate activists from public administration or political activism by limiting their participation.
SADTU views these amendments as wholly unlawful and unconstitutional and calls for parliament to reject them. It is clear that out of desperation, some are trying to reverse the gains of the National Liberation Struggle and to reintroduce apartheid era measures. This is tantamount to Action SA’s Herman Mashaba, working with the Free Market Foundation, to have the Labour Relations Act (LRA) amended to make it easy to hire and dismiss workers in the country. This is a worse assault on the LRA which is a product of sweat and blood of our heroes and heroines.
The assault on the rights of municipal workers is no different from the spirited assault on the rights of educators and education workers. SADTU is mindful that the attempts to suppress the rights of municipal workers are systematically being extended to education workers. We have fought against the DA’s attempts to have education declared as essential service because the motive was to take away constitutional rights of educators to exercise the right to freedom of association.
SADTU further supports the call by SAMWU that all matters relating to the career incidents of municipal workers in the City of Johannesburg, Tshwane and all municipalities be addressed and resolved immediately. SADTU condemns in the strongest terms the emerging trends to undermine the freedom of association which encompasses collective bargaining. This trend if left unchallenged will undermine the gains made by workers over many years of struggle.
SADTU reiterates the COSATU 14 th Congress resolution to reject these amendments. SADTU will support and join any action by SAMWU to have these draconian amendments set aside.
ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat
General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651
Secretariat Officer, Xolani Fakude: 071 355 1566
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157