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Court bid to halt ANC national policy conference looms as staff not paid two months' salaries

Unpaid Luthuli House workers on Monday held another picket to air their grievances. File photo.
Unpaid Luthuli House workers on Monday held another picket to air their grievances. File photo.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

ANC staffers, struggling to make ends meet after the nonpayment of two months' salaries, have embarked on a go-slow and are threatening to interdict the party’s national policy conference scheduled for the weekend. 

The Luthuli House workers on Monday held a picket for the umpteenth time in a bid to air their grievances, some of which date back to 2019, accusing ANC leadership of being “the most uncaring leadership for staff welfare”.

The conference, scheduled to take place at Nasrec, is expected to be attended by thousands of delegates who, among other issues, will discuss party policy and the party’s succession debate. 

The staffers feel their cries have fallen on deaf ears and drastic measures are necessary. 

“We’ve reached a point where we are going to take drastic measures now ... we are going to put an interdict on this upcoming conference,” said a worker representative, Mandla Qwane.

They admit the move will possibly cripple the party but maintain it may be necessary. “It’s not something we would like to do but we will have to do that because we are talking about people’s lives here.”

Some of the staff members, who have been assisting the party with preparations for the conference, say they have proof that the party could pay salaries but had chosen to prioritise other issues.   

The ANC has been battling with cash flow for months and has an unsettled R80m Sars tax bill in pay-as-you-earn amounts deducted from staff salaries but not paid to the tax authority.

It has been struggling to pay salaries since 2019.

In May last year, Sars garnisheed its allowances from the IEC, which the ANC receives as a party represented in parliament.

In the fourth quarter of the 2021/22 financial year — January to March 2022 — the party received R10m in donations which were declared with the IEC.

“We know there is money, everything for the conference is paid for. What the leadership doesn’t care about is its staff,” said Qwane.

The staffers say they have been struggling to provide for their families and what pains them most is the lack of communication from the employer. 

In a bid to make ends meet, some say they’ve had to dip into their personal investments. Some have lost their policies while some have died while waiting on the management to tackle their issues, particularly the provident fund, a benefit that must be paid to their families.    

“It is heartbreaking. We lost our policies last year, we negotiated with our creditors and they reinstated them when we got salaries in November/December last year.  

“Now we are back to square one, policies are being cancelled which means we continue to be uncreditworthy. We continue to lose not only our salaries but investments that we had made over time for our families. All of that is being washed away because of a leadership that is careless, But we will fight, we are not going to just sit back and wait,” said one staff member.

On Monday, NEC member Gwen Ramakgopa moved to assure the picketing crowds that the leadership was working on a plan to deal with the issue.

“This is one of the most difficult situations. This too will pass,” she said.

The ANC’s head of organising, Nomvula Mokonyane, last week said they were sympathetic to the plight of the workers who, despite not being paid, have been working for the movement tirelessly, including to honour the late Jessie Duarte.

“I think it is humbling that it’s not the elected ones, it’s those who are employed who continue to dedicate their time.”

She admitted that the nonpayment affects the progress made on the policy conference preparations. “But because we don’t have comrades who are just workers but these are activists in their own right, they are going an extra mile, they appreciate the challenges the movement is going through.”

Mokonyane said management and officials had been handling the issue and hoped it would be resolved soon.

Another staff member said it was unfortunate they would be seen as ill-disciplined if they took the party to court so soon after Duarte’s death. 

Duarte was not only sympathetic to their plight but would even go as far as taking money from her own pocket to ensure they did not go hungry at work. “She could not stomach to see a person hungry, she didn’t hesitate to give us her credit card to go and buy food whenever salaries were not paid,” he said.


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