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ANC Free State Addresses SAMWU Protests and Allegations Against Matjhabeng Mayor

Published February 29, 2024
3 months ago

The Free State chapter of the African National Congress (ANC) has finally offered an official response to ongoing tensions at the Matjhabeng Municipality in Welkom, which have been marked by multiple protests from the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU). In a statement that addressed the defiance and disruption the protests have entailed, the ANC called for mutual understanding and diligent problem-solving over heedless strikes and demonstrations.


The grievances between SAMWU and Executive Mayor Thanduxolo Khalipha have reached a critical point. For months, the labor union has rallied against the mayor, demanding his ousting over several allegations including political malfeasance, financial improprieties, and the maltreatment of employees. Their most recent demonstration occurred just last week, where union members threatened to boycott the general elections if their grievances remain dismissed.


ANC Free State Chairperson Mxolisi Dukwana was stern in his message, conveying that while the party is keen on tackling the issues at hand, it will not cave into demands that lack merit or serve no beneficial purpose to the community. Dukwana highlighted the predicament of municipal workers getting intertwined with loan sharks, an aspect the ANC deems unacceptable and in need of immediate attention.


Disappointment and frustration were palpable in SAMWU Free State Secretary Tiisetso Mahlatsi's rebuttal. He countered the ANC's narrative, claiming it to be infused with inaccuracies and misrepresentations about the nature of their protests. Mahlatsi emphasized that their genuine concerns had been documented and delivered clearly through memorandums to both the ANC leadership and the MEC of COGTA, yet these seem to have been misrepresented or overlooked.


The debate extends beyond just the protests or the political posturing. Dukwana's position suggests a broader issue of leadership and governance within municipalities that must be rectified. He is advocating for better listening, advice-seeking and leadership to preclude such adverse outcomes as work stoppages, which could often be prevented if issues were addressed in their infancy.


But SAMWU does not see eye to eye with this approach. The union claims their actions are justified, based on vast irregularities they've noted at the municipality. They express consternation over what they perceive as the ANC's neglect in mediating the situation effectively, despite past promises to do so. The union contends that their strike is legitimate and defends their position, asserting that public judgment will vindicate them in the face of what they believe are fallacies being spread by ANC representatives.


The ANC's message is one steeped in a resolve for resolve but it appears set against a contradicting reality, as expressed by SAMWU, which suggests long-standing issues have gone unacknowledged and unresolved. As the union commits to continue its protected strike, the ANC will be challenged to find a balanced approach that addresses the workers' concerns while upholding its stance on constructive dialogue over disruptive protests.



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