THE ANC leadership is influenced by ‘liars and rogues,’ anti-apartheid activist and retired Constitutional Court judge Zak Yacoob said.
Reflecting on his judicial work which began in the apartheid era‚ Yacoob said: ‘Although I have said publicly that (President) Jacob Zuma and the majority of people that influence the African National Congress are liars and rogues and though I have said that Jacob Zuma is a racist‚ my view still is that compared to 1994‚ we still have today an anti-apartheid society which is still a million times better than what it was before.
‘My criticism of today’s government which remains completely strong‚ must not be equated with my criticism of the Constitution. The Constitution is wonderful. My criticism of the government is that they are acting anti a constitution.’
Having lost his eyesight at the age of 16 months due to meningitis‚ Yacoob is also passionate about the advancement of and protection of the rights of those living with disabilities. Yacoob believes one of the greatest disabilities in the country is poverty. He said: ‘There are millions of people with disabilities who are in the rural areas who have no food‚ no water‚ no clothes and they are in an absolute mess and they have no money or programmes to deal with them.’
He added: ‘I think that they are much worse off than a person like me who has a disability but who has everything. So in a way‚ in our country‚ poverty is a very serious disability in its own right and if you then combine a person being born in a rural area who cannot walk or see or hear or who has mental troubles and they have no food‚ no water‚ no clothes‚ that is a death trap second to none.’
Yacoob‚ who retired in 2013 and continues to give lectures about the Constitution‚ believes that education is the only key to eradicating the problem. That is why I am trying to educate as many people before I die‚’ he said.
• The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) will not rush into signing an agreement which does not have any substantive increments for workers, general secretary Simon Mathe said on Thursday.
He said the union rejected the opening proposal of a five year agreement, the employer body SA Local Government Association (Salga) tabled at the South African Local Government Bargaining Council, during the first round of salary negotiation in Durban.
Mathe said: ‘We are in no position to entertain a five year collective agreement which does not have any substantive increments for our members and municipal workers in general. We can only entertain such a proposal only if our members are offered 15% or R3,155 annually for the duration of such an agreement.’
He said it was the first time in the history of salary and wage negotiations that the employer proposes a five year collective agreement. The SAMWU leader added: ‘We are therefore convinced that Salga has not opened this round of negotiations in good faith, we have therefore rejected this proposal as it is laughable and insulting to municipal workers. The fact that Salga seemingly wants to blame workers for the difficulties which municipalities are currently in is very disappointing.’
He said the employer did not want to agree to the R10,000 minimum wage labour tabled. He said Salga was arguing that local government minimum wage was double what the national government and National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) have approved, was an indication that the employer do not care about municipal workers.
Mathe stressed: ‘Municipal workers can’t be blamed for the fruitless, irregular and wasteful expenditures which are continually incurred by municipalities. This is money which would go a long way in ensuring the survival and stability of municipalities while also ensuring that there is surplus resources which can be redirected to remunerating municipal workers.’
SAMWU and the Independent Municipal Union tabled joint demands of a single year agreement which included an across the board 15% salary increase or R3,155, whichever is greater, R2,000 housing allowance for all employees, and R10,000 minimum wage for all municipal workers.
The unions wanted all benefits and conditions of service linked to salaries to increase by the same percentage as the across the board salary increase. The employer presented salary and wage proposal of a five year collective agreement, 4.6% in the first year of the collective agreement and CPI plus 0.25% for the remainder of the collective agreement.
Housing allowance to increase inline with the five year collective agreement, minimum wage to also increase inline with the five year collective agreement. Mathe said the demand for a R2,000 housing allowance is justifiable given the fact that municipal workers were told by banking institutions that they earn too little to qualify for housing finance while the very same government they worked very hard for, tells them that they do not qualify for low cost (RDP) housing thus leaving them in limbo.
He said: ‘The very same people who are in the coalface of service delivery are overlooked while councillors across the country are receiving housing allowances of over R6,500 monthly irrespective of them being a home owner of not.
‘When it comes to municipal workers, they are told that they only deserve R749 monthly of which home ownership is a prerequisite. It is for this reason that we will stick to our demand of an across the board R2,000 housing allowance for municipal workers.’
He said SAMWU would like salary negotiations concluded speedily, before the current agreement lapses in June 2018, but would not rush into signing an agreement which does not have any substantive increments for municipal workers.
Meanwhile the Public Servants Association has welcomed a ruling by South Africa’s Constitutional Court that a section in the Public Service Act‚ which permitted an employer to make unilateral deductions from an employee’s salary‚ was unconstitutional.
The court last Thursday confirmed the order passed by the Labour Court in January‚ which concerned a health manager who was erroneously overpaid for a number of years. Itunu Ibogu‚ a senior administrator at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital‚ found herself owing the Gauteng health department close to R800‚000 after being erroneously appointed in the wrong position in 2010.
It took the department five years to discover the error. Ubogu was told that she owed R794‚014 to the department. When the health department deducted part of her salary to settle the bill‚ Ubogu’s union‚ the Public Servants Association‚ approached the Labour Court on her behalf.
In a majority judgment written by Justice Bess Nkabinde last Thursday‚ she said the deductions were unconstitutional and must be paid back. She also ordered the Minister of Public Service to pay the costs of the union.