Insolvent SAMWU may approach law enforcement agencies to recover funds

Law enforcement agencies will be approached to recover funds of the South African Municipal Workers Union, if any wrongdoing is found following a 90-day investigation, says General Secretary Koena Ramotlou.

The newly elected general secretary spoke to Fin24 by phone on Wednesday, following reports that the union – an affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) – is insolvent.

The union is relying on the monthly subscriptions of its members to pay for operational expenses, including salaries, Ramotlou said.

Ramotlou confirmed that the former executives, who are still Samwu members, were voted out of their positions over financial mismanagement, at a meeting of the central executive committee last week.

The executives are still members of Samwu, he said. "We need to follow due process. We are going to follow up on what happened – who played which role and how.

"We are empowered, if we find there are any illegal things that happened in the accounts of the union, to approach law enforcement agencies to recoup the money."

Ramotlou said that the new officers are mandated to find out what caused the non-payment of service providers and late payment of employee salaries. They are also tasked with looking into the unity of Samwu members.

"We want to bring everyone back into the fold of Samwu… and to ensure Samwu is in good standing with Cosatu," he said.

The central executive committee – which consists of the union's president, vice presidents, the national treasurer, general secretary and deputy general secretary – will be briefed on the findings, and causes as well as recommendations of a way forward.

"Part of the package includes developing a road map," he said.

Save the union

The leadership will also approach the Labour Registrar to look into an application to place the union under administration.

"We are tasked to discuss with the registrar to understand the background, what has happened, how did we get to where we are now and then draft a way forward to save the union," he said.

Ramotlou said the investigation will include an assessment of expenditures to determine which of those listed do not fall within the prescriptions of the union's constitution - as these expenditures are fraudulent.