/ 24 September 2008

‘Good riddance’ says army union of Lekota

The South African National Defence Union (Sandu) on Tuesday welcomed the resignation of Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota and labelled it ”good riddance”.

”We have taken note of and welcome the long overdue resignation of the Lekota,” union national secretary Pikkie Greeff said in a statement.

According to Sandu, Lekota built an ”exemplary record in undermining” the rights of military trade unions and their membership and ”firmly” established his department as an unashamed union basher.

”The fact that Lekota has indicated his unwillingness to serve under the new leadership is simply a continuation of his firm record of rejecting the mass labour movement in South Africa.”

Greeff said the minister was walking away from a department infested with the ”legacy of denialism, corruption, nepotism and lack of respect for the sufferings of the poor, working-class soldier”.

”This department over the past four years alone wasted in excess of R7-million in taxpayers’ money unsuccessfully attempting to prove that soldiers have no labour rights and no say in their salaries or service

”All this whilst it is crippled by a lack of political leadership, drained of expertise, plagued by bad management practices and of which the morale of the ordinary rank and file is at its lowest level ever.”

”Such is the legacy of the honourable Minister Lekota. Good riddance.”

Lekota’s spokesperson Sam Mkhwanazi asked whether the trade union could supply any proof to back up its claims.

”This [the allegation] has no substance … you can’t come to me and say he is saying this, without proof,” said Mkhwanazi. – Sapa

Violated our oath
Lekota told the Mail & Guardian Online on Tuesday that the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) had accepted Judge Chris Nicholson’s ruling that fingered President Thabo Mbeki and the Cabinet for misconduct, but it had not bothered asking Cabinet members for their side of the story.

”He [Nicholson] said we violated our oath in office without any regard to our rights. Instead of meeting with us, the NEC went ahead and endorsed the judgement and on that basis resolved to act as it did [by sacking Mbeki on the weekend],” said Lekota.

”Once the NEC endorses that judgement we are disqualified from sitting in any legislature or Parliament and representing people. If you are implicated like this, in something that is a crime, there is no way we can sit in the House in good faith when we have broken our oath of office.”

He said the NEC should have recalled ”all of us”, adding: ”There is no way in which the NEC could do that and not accept the consequences.”

Asked if he was not defying Mbeki and ANC president Jacob Zuma — who have called on Cabinet ministers not to resign — Lekota said it was none of their business.

”I don’t need Thabo Mbeki to think for me. I don’t need Jacob Zuma to think for me. How can I look people in the face [after this judgement and decision by the NEC]? This affects our families and the communities we live in. I can’t represent an organisation that has taken the decision that I broke my oath of office.” – Sapa