The unilateral undertaking by the municipal manager and senior officials of the Department of Cooperative Governance (Cogta) to pay striking workers in the Baviaans Municipality without a mandate from the council, has backfired. Today, the strike by the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) was resumed, but municipal manager Jama Vumazonke is conveniently on two week’s leave and Cogta is no-where to be seen.
The province cannot simply march in, march out and dump the problem on the local municipality when it is of their making. Come back and sort out what you started!
On 18 March, Baviaans mayor Ewald Loock was viciously attacked in his office and his vehicle torched. It took intervention on provincial level by the DA to get the SAPS to respond to the strike, as the local police did not want to get involved.
The Cogta MEC, Fikile Xasa, visited Baviaans previously and said he wouldn’t intervene and the local municipality must resolve the issue. Just before the Easter Weekend the municipal manager and HOD of Cogta took a unilateral decision – against the advice of the mayor – to pay the workers.
The strike is around pay parity, as a result of the Rietbron-area being added to the Baviaans Municipality. This is not an issue that the Baviaans Municipality can resolve alone. This needs the intervention of the Sarah Baartman District Municipality (SBDM), the Department of Cooperative Governance and the provincial government.
I have written to the Premier, Phumulo Masualle, to ask him to urgently advise me what steps he will be taking to ensure the protection of persons and property (both private and public) in Baviaans Municipality.
The restarted strike is a consequence of the premier’s government’s premature and overreaching intervention and I have asked that he must resolve the current impasse.
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