The South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) has baffled Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba’s office after it accused him of using the arrest of 106 licensing department officials this week as a ploy to win political points for the city’s anticorruption unit’s head, Shadrack Sibiya.
Mashaba fired back with a statement questioning whether the union was “for or against corruption”.
His office contended that the union’s statement was contradictory in that it criticised the way in which the investigation into fraud and corruption in the licensing department was handled and, in the same breath, maintained it wanted corruption in the City of Joburg rooted out.
“If Samwu is against corruption in all its manifestations, then why would they call a press conference to attempt to discredit the city’s efforts to deal with corruption?” Mashaba asked.
Samwu’s bone of contention, it appeared, was the attribution of the city’s recently launched anticorruption unit and the progress of investigations which were launched in the previous administration.
Sibiya, the former head of the Gauteng Hawks, was appointed to head the unit in November.
Mashaba contended that although many investigations did commence before he took office, there could be no doubt, according to him, that it was taking action that the previous administration could not and would not.
In defence of its members, the union said it was of the firm view that in most instances, the allegations were primarily about policy deviations on the part of its members and, it concluded, these were informed by operational reasons.
“These cannot be construed to infer criminal intent and we find it unacceptable for the mayor to create a media frenzy over the issue and for the Hawks to make this an alleged priority crime,” it lamented, warning the mayor not to “politicise labour issues”.
Mashaba’s office argued that the labour element of the investigation was a separate issue.
“Samwu would do well to understand that internal disciplinary processes and criminal cases are two separate matters. While the Hawks believed the case is strong enough to arrest allegedly corrupt officials, we will also pursue the suspension of all implicated.”