Recently dismissed EFF Free State provincial administrator Frans James has hit out at the EFF for its “hypocrisy”, saying they are “masquerading as the vanguard of the working class”.
He has dragged the party to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for allegedly not paying legislature staff their full salaries.
He told The Citizen the reason for his dismissal from the party was for speaking out against what he describes as the “illegal docking of legislature salaries by the organisation”. He personally saw his own salary go from R34,500 to R20,000 a month in 2016 and claims he’s now owed half a million rand as the shortfall.
He described a frosty and allegedly abusive relationship with the party’s former secretary-general, Godrich Gardee, as well as EFF Free State chairperson Mandisa Makesini and HR manager Nomhle Ngcobo.
“They have gone to great lengths to victimise and frustrate me out of work after I relentlessly kept asking questions about an illegal practice of taking our salaries by the organisation.”
The EFF has in the past publicly taken as much as half of what its elected representatives earn in order to fund the party’s activities, but James alleges there is gross inconsistency and unfairness in how this principle is applied.
The party recently held its second elective conference at Nasrec in Johannesburg, where Gardee was replaced as secretary-general by Marshall Dlamini.
James claims he questioned the “withholding of part of my salary by the organisation since September 2016, which is paid from the Free State Provincial Legislature into one of the three bank accounts of the organisation”.
James said that he had lost his benefits from the legislature, “such as housing allowance, medical aid and provident fund”.
“My salary was deducted despite the fact that the person who held the post before was getting her full pay despite not having a matric certificate … I hold a B Tech in Public Management with experience as an administrator in a political office.”
He said the decision to reduce the salaries of EFF staff came after it was determined that “it was ‘too much'”.
These salaries were then diverted “to other needs of the organisation”. This saw “50% of salaries of all staff members and their benefits taken away by the EFF”, he said.
As a result, “many staff members ran into financial ruin, with others going for debt administration and others suffering health breakdowns as a result”.
Those who were not happy with the new status quo “were told they are free to leave and get jobs elsewhere”. James added that some of the staff then “organised” themselves and wrote to EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu about their problems, but he never responded, with James saying Shivambu had been canvassed on the matter.
James also alleged that Free State legislature staff were being forced to cede salaries when this supposedly did not apply in other provinces. He alleged that some of the party’s top leaders were not “leading by example by also taking salary cuts”.
“The EFF party leader in the legislature, Makesini, gets a total salary of R135,000 per month with all the benefits,” he said. “There are four MPLs in the province. Why don’t they also take salary cuts and forfeit all the benefits?”
He said a receptionist in the EFF legislature office was meant to get a salary of R19,000 per month from the legislature, but was only being paid R8,000 per month by the EFF. He alleged that Makesini was diverting the money and giving it to her own PA as a salary despite the fact that such a post had not been approved by the legislature.
“She has also appointed a spokesperson, a first in the EFF, as only the national leadership has a spokesperson. Part of my salary was paid to a researcher, who earns almost double my salary, whose post is also not on the approved legislature support staff schedule, and therefore all the three posts are not funded.”
He further alleged that Gardee, Makesini and Ngcobo had accused him last year of being a “drunkard” and threatened to charge him with misconduct.
Around the time of last year’s elections, Gardee had called him on a Friday night “and demanded that I come to a regional elections meeting of Mangaung Metro at the provincial office”.
“I told him I was not part of the meeting as I worked on provincial elections but he insisted to know my whereabouts saying he is going to send his driver to collect me. I stood my ground and told him that I was not going to be able to make it as I had started consuming alcohol. He began swearing at me over the phone in front of everyone in the meeting.
“The following day at around 8am he came knocking at my house and literally dragged me off my bed. This was just some of the ordeal I had to go through, including getting calls around 1am when he was drunk, swearing and asking for elections reports. In every meeting he would insult me and call me names in front of everyone until I stopped attending meetings where he was present. I was gatvol and very close to smashing his face.”
The party offered him two and half months’ worth of salary or the choice of facing disciplinary action.
“I rejected the offer and opted to exercise my right to defend myself at the hearing, which never happened and no charges were laid against me till this day.”
He said he was charged and suspended “for a social media post by the HR manager. There was no hearing and instead I received a backdated dismissal dismissal letter from HR manager. “
James added that the hearing was meant to take place on November 25 but the employer’s representative failed to show and he was sent his dismissal letter on December 23.
“I don’t care much about the job. I want my money. But also I want to expose the hypocrisy of these people.”
Questions were put to all the affected parties, but only Gardee responded, saying: “I am not competent to deal with matters that arose in my tenure as SG. This particular matter has been referred to CCMA by the ex-employee and the rule of sub judice applies.”
The CCMA will hear the matter on January 17.