Press Statement dated 16 May 2018

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) has learned with apprehension of the incident that occurred at the HQ premises of Vhembe District Municipality on Wednesday, the 09 May 2018. The incident involved an exchange of verbal and physical blows between the Municipal Manager, Mr M.R Rambado and the General Manager: Technical Services, Mr Thutang. The details of the incident are still sketchy but the Executive Mayor has confirmed it during the hastily convened staff meeting on Monday, the 14th May 2018.

In her address to the staff meeting on Monday Morning, the 14th May 2018, the Executive Mayor confirmed the incident, and committed her office to further establish the details of the incident, so that appropriate steps can be taken. What is not contested is that the Municipal Manager has mishandled the General Manager, who in turn, allegedly opened a criminal case against the MM, and the MM has already appeared in court on Friday, the 11th May 2018.

The insistence by the Executive Mayor to conduct further investigation in order to take appropriate steps is baffling, if not downright trivializing the rule of the law. The Municipal Manager has conducted an act of misconduct, by engaging in a criminal activity of assaulting his General Manager during working hours.

It is SAMWU contention that the conduct of the MM was so gross it warrants immediate suspension from work. The MM is the first employee of the Municipality and all officials of the municipality account to him. How does the Executive Mayor expect subordinates to operate with the MM who is prone to consistent verbal abuse to workers after the recent incident? Do we expect the GM: Technical Services to feel free in the presence of this violent MM? The entire workforce is under consistence threat of violence from the MM, but the Executive Mayor is of a different opinion.

SAMWU has obtained several confirmations from other officials of the constant verbal abuse and humiliations in the hands of the MM. Workers are called by names and are often subjected to all profanities that degrade their dignity. It has become his pastime to denigrate workers whenever he interacts with them

It is in light of these unsavoury experiences that SAMWU has no option but to demand that the Municipal Manager should be placed on precautionary suspension without any further delay. The Executive Mayor and the Council have all the ammunitions to suspend the MM so that normalcy can return to VDM.

It is ironic that the very same MM has recently suspended SAMWU leaders at VDM for raising irregularities and mismanagement taking place at the municipality. The MM has further gone to an extent of violating Section 7.7.3 of the Disciplinary Procedure Collective Agreement in pursuing flimsy charges against workers’ leaders. The Municipality has enlisted the service of practicing attorneys in order to concoct charges against whistle blowers, but has the audacity to shield the criminal from justice.

SAMWU demands the immediate suspension of Mr M.R Rambado and that rigorous process should be followed as metered to our leaders. The misguided iron fist conduct of Mr Rambado cannot be ignored any further without punitive consequences.

SAMWU intends to mobilize its members and other affiliates of COSATU to render the municipality ungovernable if immediate steps are not taken against Mr Rambado. Furthermore, SAMWU will be supporting the SACP Alpheus Malivha District march against VDM mismanagement and poor service delivery planned for later this month.

Corruption, mismanagement and corruption must come to an end at Vhembe District Municipality.

Issued by SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) Limpopo