Council workers up in arms

MORE than 300 workers at Ehlanzeni district municipality marched to the Mpumalanga department of corporate governance and traditional affairs yesterday to demand the removal of municipal manager Hugh Mbatha.

In a memorandum handed to the department, the workers accuse Mbatha of a number of irregularities, including the alleged payment of lawyers to deal with internal cases against workers .

The workers claim Mbatha is targeting a certain group and making their lives difficult by always accusing them unfairly. They also accuse Mbatha of employing female staffers after demanding sex from them but failing to follow procedures when making such employment.

Some workers, who spoke to Sowetan on condition that their names were not published, claimed that Mbatha approved payment to lawyers for representing him in a private matters without the approval of the council.

Sowetan could, however, not establish if Mbatha was indeed facing a criminal charge.

"He had the guts to use money meant for skills development and used it to pay lawyers to deal with certain individuals who were not in his good books," said one of the protesters.

Sowetan has learnt that Mbatha's contract expires early next year but workers want him sacked immediately.

Mbatha's response to Sowetan was that he was engaged in a meeting and could not speak but promised to call back.

At the time of publication Mbatha had not called.

Attempts to get comment from spokesperson for corporate governance and traditional affairs Simphiwe Kunene were unsuccessful as his phone rang unanswered.