Par­lia­ment staff urged to cool it

Se­nior of­fi­cial re­bukes union for con­duct in the me­dia


THE SEC­RE­TARY of Par­lia­ment, Gengezi Mgid­lana, has called on the Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion, Health and Al­lied Work­ers Union (Ne­hawu) to stop lev­el­ling cor­rup­tion and mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion al­le­ga­tions against the in­sti­tu­tion’s man­age­ment.

“It is un­for­tu­nate that the union lead­er­ship has thus far not demon­strated any de­sire for con­struc­tive and mean­ing­ful en­gage­ment, de­spite Par­lia­ment’s ef­forts to reach out.

“In­stead, it has re­sorted to dis­tor­tions, char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tions and false­hoods in the me­dia,” Mgid­lana said.

He de­cried that se­ri­ous and dam­ag­ing al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion and mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion were made with­out ev­i­dence be­ing pro­duced.

“Cen­tral to the union’s ma­li­cious al­le­ga­tions is a claim that the cur­rent fi­nan­cial dif­fi­culty is caused by fi­nan­cial mis­man­age­ment and/ or cor­rup­tion. This is a de­lib­er­ately mis­lead­ing, base­less and un­nec­es­sary prop­a­ga­tion of un­truths,” Mgid­lana said.

He made the state­ment amid uncer­tainty whether the par­lia­men­tary em­ploy­ees would re­ceive salary in­creases and bonuses this year.

Last week, Ne­hawu pick­eted dur­ing lunch hour ahead of the tabling of Par­lia­ment’s bud­get vote by Speaker Baleka Mbete.

This comes as the na­tional leg­is­la­ture is sad­dled with bud­get cuts that threaten the run­ning of its af­fairs, including com­pen­sa­tion of em­ploy­ees.

Although Par­lia­ment re­quested R3.3 bil­lion for the 2017/18 bud­get, the Na­tional Trea­sury al­lo­cated just R2.2bn.

A total of 300 posts are to be frozen, and salary in­creases of em­ploy­ees are said to be at risk.

“This anoma­lous fund­ing model is a mat­ter that is the sub­ject of on­go­ing dis­cus­sion be­tween Par­lia­ment and the ex­ec­u­tive, and we are hope­ful that it will be re­solved soon,” Mgid­lana said.

He was con­fi­dent that the fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion would be over­come and salary in­creases paid out.

“Any in­sin­u­a­tion that Par­lia­ment has de­cided against salary in­cre­ments is er­ro­neous and with­out any fac­tual ba­sis. The pre­vail­ing fi­nan­cial chal­lenges con­fronting the in­sti­tu­tion can­not be solved by one party alone.”

Mgid­lana was adamant that Par­lia­ment could over­come the sit­u­a­tion it was in with “a con­struc­tive union that has an ap­petite for mean­ing­ful en­gage­ment”.

“We once again ap­peal to the staff rep­re­sen­ta­tives to re­turn to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble so that we can, through col­lec­tive wis­dom, ex­plore cre­ative means to sal­vage the sit­u­a­tion.

“It is a stan­dard and com­mon prac­tice any­where that par­ties to the bar­gain­ing process sit down, thor­oughly scru­ti­nise and un­pack the fi­nances, and agree on a work­able so­lu­tion.”

He charged that pick­et­ing and lob­by­ing for me­dia sup­port would not solve the prob­lems be­ing faced.

“Is­sues of col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing be­long to the bar­gain­ing coun­cil; it is where is­sues are thrashed out and re­solved.”

Mgid­lana also de­fended him­self from re­ports that linked him to, among oth­ers, grant­ing him­self a R70 000 bonus and pri­ori­tis­ing him­self in the award­ing of bur­saries.

“The ped­dling of false and mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion, de­lib­er­ately to harm and de­fame fel­low col­leagues, would only strain em­ployee re­la­tions and tox­ify the en­tire in­sti­tu­tion,” Mgid­lana said, adding that some of these al­le­ga­tions were the sub­ject of a for­mal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Ne­hawu par­lia­men­tary branch chair­per­son Sthem­biso Tembe said they would hold a me­dia brief­ing today.

“We want to re­spond in full to the al­le­ga­tions and lies con­tained in his state­ment,” Tembe said.

Gengezi Mgid­lana

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