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All employees must wear black for Buthelezi – municipal manager

Union opposes move to mourn Buthelezi's death

Inkatha Freedom Party members mourning the passing of founding president Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi at Dube hostel, Soweto.
Inkatha Freedom Party members mourning the passing of founding president Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi at Dube hostel, Soweto.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Some employees at a KZN municipality were left stunned this week when their boss instructed them to wear only black clothes and doeks to work tomorrow to mourn the late IFP leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

Municipal manager at the IFP-led Inkosi Langalibalele Municipality SB Mthembu issued the instruction to all staff members via their emails on Monday that they were expected to wear mourning clothing when reporting for duty. 

“Please be informed that due to the death of the late Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the municipality will observe Thursday as a day of bereavement. In lieu of this, all employees [males and females] must use black clothing. Female employees must use a doek with their black clothing,” read the email without stating what will happen to those who choose not to adhere to it. 

However, this instruction did not sit well with some employees with others declaring that they will not go to work to avoid being reprimanded for wearing their chosen outfits. 

“There have been mixed reaction to this instruction because this is a political institution and some people are not affiliated to the IFP nor Buthelezi’s beliefs and have chosen to stay home on Thursday. We feel that this is unfair and we have not been given any platform to voice our opinion on this matter. It was a direct order for us to comply,” said an employee who wanted to stay anonymous for fear of being victimised.

Thobane Mkhize, an employee and union shopsteward at the municipality, said it was unfair for Mthembu to pressurise the employees to wear certain clothing to mourn Buthelezi.

“There is no labour law that says an employer can impose how workers mourn, what clothing their should wear to work to show respect to any deceased person. Also, this is a financial pressure to workers who might not have budgeted for black clothing. 

“When Zulu King [Goodwill Zwelithini] and Nelson Mandela [former president] died we never received such an instruction. Why now?,” asked Mkhize. 

Mthembu did not reply to text messages sent to him yesterday.  His personal assistant said he was attending to a meeting out of town and would ask him to respond but he had not done so by the time of going to print. 

His second in charge Hans Chotoo, who is also the director of corporate services, admitted knowing about the memorandum but said only Mthembu can comment on it. 

Nongoma Municipality, also in KZN, has suspended internal and council meetings for the week for Buthelezi who will be buried in a state funeral on Saturday. 

Municipal manager Mthandeni Zungu issued an internal memorandum to all staff on Monday informing them the council will observe a week of mourning which will end on Friday.

“To pay tribute to the late prince, all internal meeting taking place during this week must observe a moment of silence. No meeting should be conducted on Wednesday, Friday for these dates have been scheduled for the official memorial service and the funeral respectively,” read the memorandum in parts. 

Samwu shopsteward at the municipality Sandile Thwala said the decision was taken by councillors and municipal managers and would not affect ordinary workers. Nongoma is a coalition-ran municipality by the ANC, National Freedom party and the EFF.

Zungu did not respond to text messages sent to him.

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