Work­ers cel­e­brate Mgid­lana ‘small vic­tory’

CityPress - - News - ANDISIWE MAKINANA andisiwe.makinana@city­press.co.za

Work­ers claimed a small vic­tory on Fri­day when Par­lia­ment an­nounced that Sec­re­tary to Par­lia­ment Gengezi Mgid­lana was granted spe­cial leave while un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for a range of al­le­ga­tions.

It was a “small vic­tory” be­cause it was not ex­actly what the work­ers wanted; they wanted their boss sus­pended from Par­lia­ment while fac­ing an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion Health and Al­lied Work­ers’ Union (Nehawu), which rep­re­sents the ma­jor­ity of Par­lia­ment’s staff, has been at log­ger­heads with Mgid­lana since shortly af­ter his ar­rival in Par­lia­ment in De­cem­ber 2014.

Mgid­lana is also be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor, a re­sult of a slew of com­plaints laid by Nehawu in July last year.

“This is not what we want. We wanted a sus­pen­sion,” said Sthem­biso Tembe, chair­per­son of the Nehawu branch in Par­lia­ment, while ad­dress­ing an ur­gent gather­ing and mini cel­e­bra­tion by the work­ers on Fri­day. “We will take this as a small vic­tory but we must make sure that he never comes back,” added Tembe, who him­self was sus­pended about a year ago for in­sub­or­di­na­tion and in­so­lence, among other things. He said Nehawu, which had ear­lier in the week writ­ten to the pre­sid­ing of­fi­cers call­ing for Mgid­lana’s sus­pen­sion, was in the dark about “the con­di­tions of this spe­cial leave”, adding they had in­for­ma­tion that Mgid­lana still had ac­cess to his of­fice and email sys­tem. Nehawu also wants Mgid­lana’s hear­ing to be pub­lic as he said “we are ly­ing be­cause of a per­sonal vendetta”. “But we are fight­ing him be­cause of his cor­rup­tion, mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion, de­vi­a­tion from the agree­ment we signed with him, ap­point­ing him­self to the bid ad­ju­di­ca­tion com­mit­tee and so on,” said Tembe. Work­ers sang a song made pop­u­lar by Cosatu about Zuma’s im­mi­nent de­par­ture but this time around the ref­er­ence was to their boss, Mgid­lana: “O Utl­wile taba tse monate, ba re Mgid­lana wa tsamaya.”

Par­lia­ment an­nounced that its pre­sid­ing of­fi­cers Baleka Mbete and Thandi Modise had granted spe­cial leave ef­fec­tive from Fri­day. They con­firmed that Mgid­lana had re­quested that he be placed on spe­cial leave while al­le­ga­tions lev­elled against him by Nehawu were be­ing in­ves­ti­gated.

Dur­ing a heated par­lia­men­tary de­bate on May 30, Mbete re­vealed that she had re­ferred sev­eral al­le­ga­tions re­gard­ing ad­min­is­tra­tive ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties against Mgid­lana to an in­de­pen­dent au­dit com­mit­tee of Par­lia­ment for in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The com­mit­tee is made up of ex­ter­nal in­di­vid­u­als in line with pro­vi­sions of the Fi­nan­cial Man­age­ment of Par­lia­ment and Pro­vin­cial Leg­is­la­tures Act.

Dur­ing that de­bate, op­po­si­tion MPs came down hard on Mgid­lana espe­cially re­gard­ing poor labour re­la­tions since his ar­rival in Par­lia­ment – with the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fighters’ (EFF’s) Floyd Shivambu call­ing for Mgid­lana’s sus­pen­sion.

This week, Shivambu said the EFF would be writ­ing to Mbete and Modise ask­ing that Mgid­lana be sus­pended and not merely be given spe­cial leave. The DA wel­comed his spe­cial leave. Among the al­le­ga­tions made by Nehawu are that: Mgid­lana ir­reg­u­larly awarded him­self a bur­sary of R30 000 while he does not qual­ify for one and that he paid him­self an ex gra­tia bonus of R71 000 three months into his job. The bonus was meant for long-serv­ing Par­lia­ment em­ploy­ees, who had gone for years with­out get­ting an in­crease. He also al­legedly de­manded be­ing chauffeured around by Par­lia­ment pro­tec­tion staff in a blue light-fit­ted ve­hi­cle. This ser­vice was al­legedly ex­tended to his fam­ily. Mgid­lana also fell out with his se­cu­rity bosses over the ap­point­ment of the so-called bounc­ers, the cham­ber sup­port staff who phys­i­cally re­move un­ruly MPs from the House. Staff have claimed that proper re­cruit­ment pro­cesses were not fol­lowed. The pre­sid­ing of­fi­cers of Par­lia­ment have ap­pointed Deputy Sec­re­tary to Par­lia­ment Pene­lope Tyawa to act in Mgid­lana’s po­si­tion while he is on spe­cial leave.

TALK TO US Should Gengezi Mgid­lana be sus­pended from Par­lia­ment?

Gengezi Mgid­lana

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