On the internal conflict in SAMWU Ethekwini – MKMVA

Veterans say 60 trainees were initially incorrectly allocated to jobs/positions

MKMVA clarifies the position of the 60 MK veteran trainees/employees that led to conflict among their fellow SAMWU members in Ethekwini and calls for negotiations based on worker solidarity to proceed to find lasting solution  

14 May 2019

The Military Veterans Act2011 (Act No. 18 of 2011) is an act of the Parliament of South Africa that defines the government as the responsible for governing the affairs of the countries military veterans. The act provides for military veterans to be granted opportunities for training and employment in instances where they have the required skills and ability. In this context, and informed by the provisions of the Act, the Umkhonto we Sizwe MIlitary Veterans Association (MKMVA), together with the Ethekwini Metropolitan Council, embarked on a project to promote the training and eventual employment of ex-MK combatants.

The said project commenced in 2013, and became known as ‘Project 60’, based on the number of 60 MKMVA members who were identified to be trained with the intention to upgrade their already existing skills base in order to secure gainful employment for them.

Project 60’ was based in Ethekwini Municipality’s Department of Water and Sanitation. The training programme lasted for a period of eighteen months, and those selected underwent training in appropriate modules that qualified them for NQF 14 qualifications. The training programme included both theoretical and practical components.

Unfortunately upon completion of their training in 2015 the 60 trainees encountered an adverse situation where they were initially incorrectly allocated to jobs/positions that they were not trained for. This happened, while the work that they were actually trained for was being outsourced to sub-contractors. It was a totally unacceptable situation, and tantamount to wasteful expenditure, because the training that they have receive was funded by tax payer’s money.

As conscientious citizens, who were also keen to work and serve their communities on the basis of the training that they have received, the 60 trainees engaged the municipal management of Ethekwini. In the process of such engagement it was discovered that there were plans afoot to appoint subcontractors for multi-million Rands worth of tenders, for the very same work that they have actually been trained for.

Evidently this was miss-guided, and not a sensible approach, and consequently an agreement was reached that the 60 trainees would instead be employed in a new depot, where the tasks would strategically be planned and carried out, utilizing the training that they have received, and thus saving the municipality considerable expenditure. The 60 trainees followed all the required employment procedures and protocols in applying for employment in the appropriate positions that they qualified for. Thus, they were finally all employed into positions that they were best fitted for, with the job descriptions and allocations ranking them at Grade 10.

It is very unfortunate that this well intended and legitimate process, lead to some misunderstandings and conflicts with other existing employees who are, similar to the said 60 trainees/employees, members of SAMWA. This is indeed sad, because when the problems of these 60 trainees having been employed in inappropriate positions initially surfaced, they actually engaged SAMWU for assistance. It was throughout made clear that the 60 trainees/employees were not expecting special of preferential treatment at the cost of other workers, but were simply demanding to be treated fairly with proper recognition of their skills and training, and thus to be employed into posts that they have been trained for and are qualified to hold, and where they can serve the community of Ethekwini best.

Unfortunately some elements have deliberate miss-presented these legitimate demands, and for their own selfish and reactionary political reasons mobilized other fellow SANWU members against the said 60 trainees on the basis of false information. As a consequence a situation arose where an unnecessary conflict was stoked on between fellow SAMWU members.

The size of of the upheaval that was caused by these developments, and the consequent disruption of municipal services and damage to municipal property is a very serious matter, and entirely disproportionate to the matter at hand. Sinister forces were at work to create as much political instability as possible and to inflict optimum damage. It must be re-emphasized that the 60 MKMVA trainees/employees are themselves all SAMWU members in good standing, and they certainly do not deserve to have their own colleagues turning on them in this manner, and to end up being viciously victimized.

It is our sincere conviction that if calm and politically mature minds prevail, without deliberate miss-information and blatant lies, the issues that concerns the SAMWU workers - and which are also matters of concern for the the 60 trainees/employees - can be addressed and mutually satisfactory resolutions can be found between fellow comrades.

MKMVA calls on all concerned to desist from fueling the fires of division and conflict, and instead to work for re-establishing the common base of workers solidarity, that should bind all workers together into a united force. Those who deliberately try to divide us are not our friends, and they must be exposed and isolated.

What is required are level headed and reasonable negotiations, based on the foundation of worker’s solidarity, to proceed in order to find a lasting and peaceful resolution for the current problems.

Issued by Carl Niehaus, MKMVA NEC Member, and National Spokesperson, 14 May 2019