6 February 2013

South Africa: Mbombela and Local Municipalities Hearing

press release

The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) today convened a follow-up, supplementary employment equity hearing with two municipalities which had failed to appear before the CGE on the 30-31 October 2012 in Mpumalanga. The CGE was compelled to subpoena the Municipal Managers of the Mbombela and Msukaligwa Local Municipalities to appear before it and account for the slow pace of gender transformation.

The CGE noted with dismay the non-appearance of the Municipal Manager of Msukaligwa Municipality, Mr Thami Bafana Welkom Dlamini, who sent the Municipality's Legal Advisor Mr Muziwakhe Madonsela to request postponement of the hearing. The CGE rejected the explanation offered by Mr Madonsela, noting that it had the power to institute criminal proceedings against Mr Dlamini.

The CGE advised that it reserved the right to proceed with this option should the Municipal Manager fail to cooperate with the CGE in future. The CGE indicated that it would initiate proceedings in the Equality Court to compel the Municipal Manager to exercise his responsibilities for transformation in accordance with the requirements of the Employment Equity Act.

The Mbombela Municipality's Municipal Manager, Mr Xolani Mzobe, presented his Municipality's responses to questions submitted by the CGE. The CGE expressed its appreciation for the commitment demonstrated by Mr Mzobe, and his frankness regarding challenges facing the municipality.

Nonetheless, the CGE reiterated the Constitutional and legislative requirements of gender equality, and expressed its concern at the municipality's poor performance regarding transformation in relation to gender and disability. The CGE noted the disconnect between transformation policy statements as opposed to their reflection in policy, implementation and accountability.

The CGE expressed its deep dismay at the lack of commitment and progress demonstrated by employers with regard to gender transformation. Commissioners noted the consistent lack of a business approach to transformation, evident by inadequate business plans and allocation of necessary authority, accountability and resources, in both the public and private sector.

Such failures have been consistently observed throughout hearings convened by the CGE, despite a progressive national gender equality policy framework.

Amongst its recommendations outlined at the hearing, the CGE called upon the Municipal Manager to develop and submit a report within two months, outlining targets, strategies and budget allocated to address transformation shortcomings.

The Municipal Manager was advised to ensure the accountability of senior managers in implementation of the Employment Equity plan and it targets, and include this responsibility in their performance agreements and appraisals.

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