The mayor of the Molemole local municipality in Limpopo is in hot water after allegedly instructing municipal employees to take two days’ leave, to celebrate the victory of his political associates who won the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) elections last week.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) alleged the mayor, Edward Paya, instructed 113 municipal employees not to report for duty on Thursday and Friday.
This, it says, he did soon after his political associates won the Samwu elections and he allegedly gave the instruction without first consulting the municipal manager as required by law.
“The mayor’s reckless instruction brought the municipality to an abrupt standstill,” said DA councillor Calvin Matji yesterday. “Services such as paying for electricity, water, licences and other services were negatively affected because of his errant behaviour.”
Matji alleged Paya told the workers to take leave to celebrate the victory shortly after his die-hard supporters, who he campaigned for to take over the union’s leadership, were announced to have walloped his detractors who contested for plum Samwu positions.
“Section 51 of the Municipal Act indicates clearly that any instruction, queries and any form of communication between council, committees, the mayor or the council speaker to the administration cannot bypass the office of the municipal manager.
“This is so because the municipal manager is an accounting officer for the entire municipality. It is therefore clear that mayor Paya has no regard for these rules,” Matji said in a statement.
He said to complicate the matter, the Act also emphasised that no individual councillor could give instructions to employees without authorisation of the council in a democratically convened sitting.
Matji claims there were attempts to pre-empt the collapse of services over the two days, by sending SMSs to all managers to report for duty, to no avail.
“The DA demands answers.
“We have already written to the council speaker to summon the mayor to appear before the ethics committee and explain with precision and distinction why he acted in the way he did,” added Matji.
But yesterday, Paya poured cold water on the DA’s claims, saying the allegations were totally devoid of truth.
“I am not saying a thing to you except that I am suing the DA for defamation of character and for tarnishing my persona as a leader and a trusted and respected politician.
“I am not going to take this lying down. I am taking them to task.
“They must prove to my lawyers who I told not to report for duty [and] where I made such a statement.
“The DA must in turn be able to prove beyond any shadow of doubt in court,” said the mayor.