Nehawu challenges the ANC’s mismanagement of staff salaries in court

As ANC staff continue on a go-slow after months of nonpayment, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union, has approached the courts to force the ruling party to pay up. 

This comes after ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa apologised in January and made assurances to staff that the party’s money issues would be sorted out.   

According to some national executive committee (NEC) members, the ANC will also be looking at increasing parliament’s political party funding to help to curb its financial woes. 

The governing party receives R120-million from the Represented Political Parties’ Fund. Should the ANC succeed in its plan to increase party funding, the NEC members said they expect a little under R500-million to be apportioned to the party. 

In a statement on Wednesday, Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha said that the union approached the labour court on 31 January on behalf of its members and staff to demand that the service tendered by workers be immediately remunerated.  

Saphetha said that the ANC had deliberately failed and elected not to honour its contractual obligations since October 2021. This had resulted in workers going into the festive season without pay, while the party made preparations for the January 2022 celebrations “cutting cakes as if all is well and sorted with their employees”. 

Nehawu added that, despite Ramaphosa saying publicly that the ANC was prioritising the payment of its workers, nothing had happened. Instead, workers were being threatened with retrenchment. 

In May 2021, the Mail & Guardian reported that party officials agreed to cut staff by 50% in an effort to resize and restructure the organisation. Treasurer general Paul Mashatile also told the NEC in a leaked audio obtained by the M&G that another option would be crowdfunding. 

“We have tried everything possible to find an amicable solution, but to no avail, and, at worst, these workers were not treated with the dignity they deserve. Unfortunately, the straw that broke the camel’s back was when Christmas passed with no salaries paid,” said Saphetha. 

“This union shall not fold its arms, watch its members and workers working for the ANC as an employer losing everything they have worked hard for due to the nonpayment of salaries by the same liberation movement who ensured workers’ rights and the right to be paid for the service delivered by workers in this country. This is a battle worth fighting for; hence, the union is prepared to [take] the bull by its horns and even prepared to sleep with the hyena.” 

Saphetha added that the union held a meeting with its members on 18 January at which it had resolved to intensify the campaign to push the employer to accede to the demands of the union’s members and workers.

He said that ANC staff were going through a “sad” and “traumatising” period as a direct result of ANC failures to honour and fulfil contractual obligations, including payments to the provident fund and contributions to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and medical aid. Staff had also not received salary increases for the last three years. 

“Previously, the ANC made numerous commitments and promises which raised high hopes to its employees that it would pay salaries and contribute to the provident fund, to the UIF and to the medical aid scheme on time; however, these have not been the case and rather remained an unfulfilled promise,” Saphetha said.  

The ANC staff went on a first go-slow shortly before the local government elections, which resulted in the party failing to register its council list to the Electoral Commission of South Africa. 

The Daily Maverick has previously reported that the ANC employs 387 staff nationally, has operational costs of R6-million and a salary bill of between R20-million and R21-million.

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Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa is a political journalist with a keen interest in local government.

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