/ 17 October 2013

Satawu hit by sex scandal

Satawu Hit By Sex Scandal

Transport union Satawu was at the forefront of calls to suspend Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi for having sex with a subordinate, but the union has allegedly ignored similar accusations levelled against one of its own leaders.

Fourteen former South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union shop stewards and employees have taken the union and some of its leaders to the Labour Court in Cape Town over the way an alleged intimate relationship between a national leader and an employee has benefited the employee.

Applicants say in court papers that they raised the issue with the national leadership, but to no avail.

Instead, the complainants, who have written to the union's provincial and national leadership, have had their membership suspended or terminated and those working for Satawu have been dismissed.

The applicants claim that deputy general secretary Nicholus Maziya has an intimate relationship with Thembela Dakuse, the union's Western Cape acting provincial secretary and provincial organiser.

They allege that Maziya intervened to ensure that Dakuse was appointed as provincial organiser. They further allege that he later ensured her election as provincial secretary.

Maziya has denied the accusations.

'Dear baby'
The applicants claim that, in an email, in which Maziya addresses Dakuse as "Dear baby", Maziya leaked the questions Dakuse would be asked at her interview for the position of provincial organiser.

The applicants are also asking the court to declare that a special provincial executive committee (PEC) meeting held on February 16 this year did not comply with the provisions of the Satawu constitution.

They want all decisions and appointments made at the meeting to be declared void, in particular Dakuse's election as provincial secretary and the suspension of staff and shop stewards that followed.

They claim that, at the special PEC meeting, which was chaired by Maziya, who was accompanied by his bodyguards, the then provincial secretary resigned and an acting provincial secretary had to be elected.

The applicants claim that a number of those at the meeting who raised issues from the floor were deemed dissidents and forcibly removed by Maziya's bodyguards, who used "chokeholds and Tasers" .

At the meeting, Dakuse was elected provincial secretary of Satawu, a position she still holds and for which she receives a salary of approximately R37 000 per month, including a car allowance of R9 000, a cellphone allowance of R2 000, an iPad and a laptop.

"The total package is quite appealing and it is my further respectful submission that it is highly unlikely that there would be only one person making themselves available for appointment," states the first applicant, Cyril Mfokofi, in the court papers.

Intimate relationship
The applicants are also challenging Maziya's role during the PEC meeting.

They claim that, according to Satawu's constitution, he should not have chaired the meeting.

In responding papers, Maziya opposed the application on behalf of himself, Dakuse and Satawu.

He denied the alleged intimate relationship with Dakuse and that he allegedly intervened in an irregular manner in order to secure her appointment as union organiser and her election as [acting] provincial secretary of the Western Cape.

He also denied that those who objected to the alleged irregular intervention and Dakuse's appointment and election were suspended or dismissed or had their membership terminated by Satawu "for no justifiable reason".

"The facts are quite different.

"Each and every one of the applicants who has either been suspended, dismissed as an employee or ejected as a member has suffered that fate for reasons relating to their conduct and not because of any campaign to entrench the third respondent's [Dakuse's] position or as retaliation for any form of opposition thereto," he wrote.

Maziya also disputed the authenticity of the email he supposedly sent to Dakuse, saying he only found out about it when he received the court application.

"I repeat that the email is a fabrication and there is no intimate relationship between me and the third respondent."

Dakuse did not respond to several requests for comment.

Satawu national spokesperson Vincent Masoga denied that the union was being hypocritical in the way it was dealing with Maziya's case compared with the way it had responded to Vavi's.

He said the union was clear and consistent on such matters and, if there was any evidence that leaders were involved in such acts, it would act.

"But we have to allow the court process to take its course."

Masoga also said the union did not want to discipline anyone on the strength of allegations made by members who have disciplinary cases pending against them.

He said Maziya had been deployed to the Western Cape to deal with many problems in the union, including tribalism, racism and general ill-discipline at meetings and in the organisation.

"But accusations were levelled at him [with] people attacking him personally," said Masoga.

He said the matter would be addressed at the next central executive committee meeting if it arose.

The case is expected to be heard on October 24.