Samwu gets to the bottom of its financial crisis

A municipal worker during the strike organised by Samwu.
A municipal worker during the strike organised by Samwu.
Image: VATHISWA Ruselo

The new leadership of the the SA Municipal Workers Union is facing a enormous task of measuring the extend of financial mismanagement which has plunged the union into financial crisis.

Koena Ramotlou, Samwu’s general secretary, said national office bearers were removed last week because the union could not meet its financial obligations.

Samwu elected John Dlamini as its president, Nelson Mokgotho as the first deputy president, Pricilla Ntsuba as the second deputy president, Ramotlou as the general secretary, Dumisani Magagula as the deputy general secretary and Zukiswa Vezi as treasurer-general.

“They had to bring us as new leadership to look into what is exactly [being] said in the audited financial statements and what is the operating and expenditure account. We are busy with that process going through the financial statements to see what is this thing that has been raised by provinces. Provinces were not receiving their provincial allocation to be able to service members,” said Ramatlou.

Ramotlou said the new leadership is meeting with the finance team to establish the extent of the financial problems at the union.At the moment, Ramotlou said, the new leadership could not state accurately by how much Samwu was in the red.

“I can’t say to you yes or no [the union is broke]. I must be able to tell you which item has caused that situation,” said Ramotlou.

To illustrate the extent of financial mismanagement, Ramotlou said the now former president of the union Pule Molalenyane signed a letter to allow a private company to collect membership subscriptions on behalf of Samwu.

“That is illegal. He sent the letter to municipalities and they did not cooperate. That is the extent of what has been happening in the union,” Ramotlou said.

Ramatlou said the team looking into the finances of the union was expected to report back to the central executive committee in 90 days.

In May last year, Samwu rejected media reports which said the union was in a financial crisis. But last month, the registrar of labour relations in the department of labour Lehlohonolo Molefe said there was a strong case to be made against the union and its leaders after he discovered serious financial irregularities, including that the union had received a loan from the now-defunct VBS Mutual Bank.

Molefe called Samwu to explain why it failed to repay a R12m loan it received from VBS Mutual Bank.

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