The Communication Workers Union has distanced itself from an inflammatory statement issued by its KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary, Thami Mzileni.
Mzileni accused public protector Thuli Madonsela of running a “politically motivated campaign spearheaded by the DA” after she released a damning report on ethics and governance at the SABC, drawing particular attention to acting COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Motsoeneng was found to have used his position to enrich himself (increasing his salary by 63% to R2.4 million in one year) and purging the public broadcaster of people he deemed opposed to him in a blatant abuse of power. He was also found to have lied about having a matric.
The CWU said that in trying to defend Motsoeneng, Mzileni “goes out of line by attacking the credibility and integrity of the Public Protector and accuses her of advancing interests of the opposition DA”.
It said while the union has questioned the “slow pace” of the public protector’s in addressing the CWU’s complaint about the Post Office, it could not be associated with “with any insults and deviant behaviour that seeks to discredit and damage the reputation of the public protector”.
“As a principled and progressive union, we distance ourselves from the Hlaudi Motsoeneng Coalition and the agenda it chases,” the CWU said in a statement.
The union said it was not Mzileni’s place to comment on the public protector’s report as this was a national competency. “Our KZN secretary has clearly crossed the line by going against union policy and has through his utterances brought the name of the organisation into disrepute,” said the CWU.
Mzileni has now been suspended in terms of “remedial action” instituted by the union via an internal disciplinary process. “This should send a clear message that as a revolutionary union, we cannot allow anarchy and ill-discipline amongst our ranks.”
The union said it would never “be co-opted into any personal and factional agenda to protect wrong-doers at the expense of workers who bear the brunt of maladministration and unethical management practices”.
It called on the SABC board, the communications portfolio committee in parliament and communications minister Yunus Carrim to consider the report, and act in the best interests of “the South African masses and the SABC workers” so the i public broadcaster could fulfil its duties to the best interests of South African people.