NEWS & ANALYSIS

Joburg cuts ties with SALGA - Herman Mashaba

Mayor says critical leadership roles dominated by ANC-aligned individuals

City cuts ties with SALGA

30 August 2018

Today, the City of Johannesburg Council approved the non-payment of subscription fees to the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) on account of SALGA’s dereliction of duty to the City.

SALGA’s mandate is to represent the interests of all member local governments, however, recent conduct by the organisation suggestions that it is politically aligned at worst or grossly negligent of its members at best.

Following the 2016 Local Government Elections, the country experienced a shift in political leadership across numerous municipalities, including 3 of the largest metros.

The membership structure of SALGA – which affords one seat to each municipality – is however not proportional to the population of each municipality.

Subsequent to the 2016 Elections, the various multi-party government configurations – particularly those in Gauteng – engaged SALGA regarding its membership structure in order to raise concerns regarding the fact that SALGA leadership does not reflect the political change stemming from the elections.

Indeed, critical leadership roles within the organisation consists predominantly of the individuals aligned to the ANC.

This has resulted in a misalignment between the political composition of SALGA, and the political composition of its member municipalities.

This is not the first time these concerns have been raised with the organisation. Disappointingly, representations made by the City on these matters have fallen on deaf ears.

Two major instances are illustrative of this.

SALGA, whose mandate is to represent municipalities as an impartial Employer’s Organisation, has instead become a politicised structure failing in its obligations towards the City of Johannesburg.

Since 2015, internal divisions within SAMWU have resulted in two conflicting factions within the organisation claiming to be the legitimate representatives of SAMWU. This continued conflict within SAMWU has negatively affected labour relations in the City and our municipal entities – impacting negatively on service delivery.

It should be noted that the SAMWU dispute and factionalism experienced locally is not limited to the City of Johannesburg, but is problematic in the national, provincial and most local structures of SAMWU. This is a problem that effects the majority of municipalities and demands SALGA’s attention.

As a result of the local impasse regarding the legitimate leadership of SAMWU, the City of Johannesburg wrote to SALGA requesting their guidance and intervention. Despite their responsibility to the City as the Employer’s representative, SALGA failed to come to the City’s aid and provide any guidance on the matter whatsoever.

Following SALGA’s failure to intervene, the City approached the courts – with SALGA as a second applicant – to seek clarity from the Court regarding which SAMWU faction was legitimate. This was necessary as their continued infighting was having an adverse effect on the functionality of the City’s collective bargaining structures.

As a second applicant, the City expected SALGA to support its position and file documents in support of the City’s application. This assistance was not forthcoming from SALGA, who failed to file any supporting documents to the City’s application.

Subsequent to the ruling by the Labour Court, the matter was taken on appeal to the Labour Appeal Court. The City, as well as the respondents, continued filing either for or against the appeal. Throughout this process SALGA remained silent and disinterested.

In the second instance, as of March 2018, SAMWU shop stewards and office bearers’ terms of office came to an end rendering the positions effectively vacant. In spite of this, SALGA has continued to engage the previously elected shop stewards and office bearers through the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC), in so doing effectively undermining the election of new shop stewards and office bearers.

The continued engagement with the previously elected leadership is at odds with the democratic principles associated with good governance and places the City and SALGA in untenable situation regarding labour issues.

Further to this, while SALGA has continue to engage with the unions and their defunct leadership, municipalities have been kept in the dark on all consultations and negotiations on matters of mutual interest that are conducted under the auspices of the SALGBC.

The negotiations regarding the Wage Curve and the Salaries and Collective Agreements are a good example of this. Whereas the unions provided regular feedback to their members, communication from SALGA to the City has not been forthcoming.

The failure to engage the City in good faith, and on an ongoing basis, undermines the City’s position and generally serves to comprise municipalities’ planning processes.

It is the City’s considered view that by undermining the role of the City, SALGA is in gross dereliction of its roles and responsibilities as an Employer’s organisation.

The charade is over. It is not acceptable for SALGA to masquerade as a non-partisan organisation when in reality, it serves as a proxy for Luthuli House.

We demand unbiased practices from SALGA so that it can become an organisation that works for the benefit of all.

Statement issued by Cllr Herman Mashaba, Executive Mayor, City of Johannesburg, 31 August 2018