Bat­tered Samwu again at odds

Af­ter al­le­ga­tions about mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion, union lead­ers are now ac­cused of not com­ing clean about cor­rup­tion

Mail & Guardian - - News - Sarah Smit

Aforen­sic au­dit re­port said to have found ev­i­dence of cor­rup­tion at the top of the em­bat­tled South African Mu­nic­i­pal Work­ers’ Union is be­ing sup­pressed by Samwu’s lead­ers, union in­sid­ers say.

The Cosatu-aligned union, with about 150 000 mem­bers, is the coun­try’s big­gest mu­nic­i­pal union. But Samwu has been weak­ened by fac­tion­al­i­sa­tion and per­sis­tent al­le­ga­tions of fi­nan­cial mis­man­age­ment by its lead­ers. It has also been plagued by purges of of­fi­cials who have al­legedly come up against its pres­i­dent, Pule Mo­lalenyane, an issue that Cosatu gen­eral sec­re­tary Bheki Nt­shal­intshali has raised con­cern over.

Union sources have ac­cused Mo­lalenyane of with­hold­ing the find­ings of an E&Y re­port com­mis­sioned in 2016 to in­ves­ti­gate how mil­lions of rands in mem­ber­ship fees went miss­ing.

But Mo­lalenyane says this claim is merely an ef­fort to de­flect at­ten­tion away from a cor­rupt fac­tion in Samwu.

The re­port was com­mis­sioned by the union af­ter an internal bat­tle over R178-mil­lion that was al­legedly stolen from union cof­fers un­der its pre­vi­ous lead­er­ship. The re­port is ex­pected to be tabled be­fore the union’s cen­tral ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee in Jan­uary 2019, though Samwu gen­eral sec­re­tary Si­mon Mathe had pre­vi­ously said it would be made pub­lic in May this year.

A well-placed union of­fi­cial fa­mil­iar with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion said she met the au­di­tors be­fore the fi­nal­i­sa­tion of the re­port and was con­cerned be­cause the find­ings im­pli­cated key union lead­ers in the theft of the money.

The of­fi­cial, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said she tried to alert Mo­lalenyane to this, but was brushed off.

Ac­cord­ing to her notes from a 2016 meet­ing with the au­di­tors, two peo­ple had al­ready been im­pli­cated in the find­ings of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion — Samwu deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary Moses Miya and Sa­muel Phaswane. Phaswane was ar­rested in March 2015 and was the first per­son to be ar­rested in con­nec­tion with the stolen money. Miya was later ar­rested and charged with fraud and theft. But he was only sus­pended this year, shortly af­ter Mo­lalenyane re­ceived the re­port in Septem­ber. At the time, Mo­lalenyane de­scribed the ar­rests in 2015 as a “po­lit­i­cal plot”. The case against Miya was dis­missed in 2017.

The of­fi­cial said she be­lieved Miya had been sus­pended now be­cause he and Mo­lalenyane had fallen out. Mo­lalenyane de­nied this and Miya could not be reached for com­ment.

“We be­lieve we should have ac­cess to the re­port,” North West pro­vin­cial sec­re­tary The­beit­sile Mokoto said. He made it clear that he was op­posed to Molanyane’s fac­tion.

“It is in the in­ter­est of the mem­bers of Samwu to make sure that this re­port is in the open so that any­one im­pli­cated in it is named and shamed. Those in­di­vid­u­als must face the might of the law,” Mokoto said.

It was the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the union’s lead­ers to make sure that any union mem­ber could ac­cess the re­port, he said.

He be­lieved Mo­lalenyane did not want the re­port re­leased be­cause it im­pli­cates more peo­ple than just Miya.

But Mo­lalenyane said, if any Samwu of­fi­cials had been im­pli­cated, they would have been sus­pended, as Miya was. “The peo­ple who are ac­tu­ally in the wrong are try­ing to di­vert at­ten­tion from them­selves,” Mo­lalenyane said about the al­le­ga­tions lev­elled against him.

He has been ac­cused of fi­nan­cial mis­man­age­ment sev­eral times in the past year, partly be­cause a leaked 2017 fi­nan­cial au­dit re­vealed that Samwu had that year taken out an R11.8-mil­lion loan from the now de­funct VBS Mu­tual Bank, al­legedly using its Jo­han­nes­burg head­quar­ters as col­lat­eral.

But the au­dit could not es­tab­lish whether the union’s cen­tral ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee had ap­proved the loan, as re­quired by Samwu’s con­sti­tu­tion. More than R9-mil­lion of the loan was used to buy print­ers from an in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy com­pany, Sam­serv.

Both the un­named of­fi­cial and Mokoto said no new print­ers could be found in any Samwu of­fices.

Mo­lalenyane has dis­missed claims that there was any­thing ir­reg­u­lar about these trans­ac­tions, adding that Samwu was never im­pli­cated in ad­vo­cate Terry Mo­tau’s re­port on VBS, which named 53 peo­ple of in­ter­est in the al­leged loot­ing of the bank.

Ac­cord­ing to Mo­lalenyane, the au­di­tors could not prove the loan was com­pli­ant be­cause they did not have the rel­e­vant doc­u­ments. The doc­u­ments would have shown that there was noth­ing ir­reg­u­lar about the loan, he said, adding that the al­le­ga­tions that there be­ing no new print­ers at Samwu of­fices were “pure lies”.

The fi­nan­cial au­dit re­port also re­vealed that Samwu was op­er­at­ing at a loss of al­most R6-mil­lion by the end of 2017, but Mo­lalenyane said the union’s fi­nan­cial stand­ing was im­prov­ing.

Cosatu also seems hope­ful that the union is sta­bil­is­ing. The fed­er­a­tion’s spokesper­son, Sizwe Pamla, said Samwu’s fi­nan­cial po­si­tion had im­proved sig­nif­i­cantly and it had re­cently been pay­ing its sub­scrip­tion fees to the fed­er­a­tion, although it was still not in good stand­ing.

Nt­shal­intshali said Cosatu has not yet seen the E&Y re­port.

Strike out: Union sources have ac­cused Samwu pres­i­dent Pule Mo­lalenyane (be­low) of with­hold­ing a foren­sic au­dit re­port in an at­tempt to cover up al­leged cor­rup­tion in the body’s up­per ech­e­lons. Photo: Del­wyn Verasamy

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.