Waste management tenders in the City of Ekurhuleni have become a sore point in simmering tensions between the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) and the municipality.
The union said the metro did not need the multimillion-rand waste collection and disposal contracts awarded to external parties.
Samwu general secretary Koena Ramotlou said the contracts, which run to R276 million annually to “empower” township-based contractors, were a cash cow for tenderpreneurs.
“What is needed is capacitation and reinforced staff to ensure waste is collected and disposed of in line with the city’s schedule.
“For the record, the Ekurhuleni metro does not need waste collection and disposal contracts. Currently, the city has funded vacancies in the waste department.
“Instead of ensuring that these vacancies are filled in line with the city’s employment policies, they have rushed to fill the pockets of people known to be benefactors of politicians in the city.
“Samwu remains opposed to the delivery of services through the tendering process as this is not in the interest of service delivery or the workers employed by the contractors.
“The contractors always charge exorbitant amounts for the same work that municipal employees can do. On top of that, the contractors pay their employees peanuts with no job security or benefits,” said Ramotlou.
Asked for a response, Ekurhuleni spokesperson Nhlanhla Cebekhulu said: “We don’t want to dignify all the allegations in the Samwu statement with a response.
“Kindly ask specific questions for the story you intend writing.”
After providing a list of questions and a day to answer to Samwu’s charges, no response was forthcoming from the metro.
Meanwhile, Samwu demanded the immediate reinstatement of 40 Ekurhuleni employees axed “to cover up money laundering”.
Ramotlou said: “Samwu has noted with great disappointment and disgust the irrational decision taken by the Ekurhuleni metro to summarily dismiss 40 employees of the environmental resources and waste management department.
“The employer contends that 40 employees were unruly and committed gross misconduct, which warrants immediate termination of their contracts.
“When workers reported for duty on Monday they were randomly pointed out to police by management alleging they prevented contractors [from working] who were illegally appointed by the city to manage waste collection and disposal.”
After the police released the workers, the metro gave them letters of immediate dismissal.
“We are not surprised that despite talks in the local labour forum not being fully exhausted on the appointment of these contactors in terms of section 77 and 78 of the Municipal Systems Act, for reasons which have become obvious, the city rushed to appoint these contactors, flouting legal prescripts in the process.
“Politicians in the city are positioning themselves for the ANC elective congresses and have seen an opportunity to launder money through these contractors to boost their candidatures using taxpayers’ money.”
He added that the proof was in the fact that “these contractors have been invoicing Ekurhuleni for work not done or work completed by city employees”.