Workers booted out of meeting: chaos erupts as unionists fight over attendance

Members of a rival faction of the provincial South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) were yesterday booted out of a special provincial executive committee (PEC) meeting.

The meeting, at an East London hotel yesterday, got off to a slow and shaky start after provincial office bearers refused to allow suspended members inside the venue.

It was meant to start at 9am, but eventually convened two hours later when police and bouncers were called in to diffuse rising tensions.

The delegates kicked out of the meeting – from the union’s OR Tambo, Nelson Mandela Bay, Pinky Ntsangane and Amathole regions – later convened a “parallel” meeting at a Bunker’s Hill bed and breakfast.

Samwu provincial secretary Milton Myolwa said he was not concerned by the parallel ANC meeting, adding it had happened before.

The two factions are divided over numerous internal politics including the expulsion of provincial chair Mzwandile Toyise.

The Daily Dispatch understands that Toyise and his allies were expelled after they allegedly went against the union’s national office bearers and convened a provincial chairs meeting in Johannesburg in March.

The meeting resolved that the union’s president, Pule Molalenyane, first deputy president John Dlamini and its national treasurer Portia Lindi be removed.

The trade union will be convening a special central executive committee (CEC) in the Free State, where issues of members accused of fraud, among others, are expected to be discussed.

Late last year the Hawks arrested several Samwu officials on fraud charges relating to the disappearance of R178-million from the union’s coffers.

The special CEC meeting will be convened after a Labour Court judgment ruled that the union’s national secretary Simon Mathe should immediately convene the CEC.

In the judgment, seen by the Dispatch, Justice Edwin Tlhotlhalemaje ruled that: “The general secretary will convene a special CEC on a date not later than 19 May 2016.”

After the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) special congress last year, the union’s national office bearers disbanded some of its structures and provincial leaders.

Samwu shop steward Luthando Juju told the Dispatch it was concerning that the special CEC meeting would be held at Molalenyane’s hometown.

“The CEC has always been convened in Johannesburg. Why are they now taking it to Free State? These are the same people that went on a crusade expelling leaders, hence members called for this special CEC,” Juju said. —


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