By Roy Jankielsohn, Leader of the Official Opposition in the Free State Provincial Legislature:
The Free State Provincial Department of Human Settlements are imposing Cubans recruited during Premier Ace Magashule’s R14 million recruitment drive in Cuba earlier this year for employment in struggling municipalities.
The provincial government is illegally imposing itself on municipalities by instructing councils to spend large sums of money employing Cubans they have never recruited. This is extremely unconstitutional and takes cadre deployment to a new level.
This behaviour proves that municipalities in the Free State have no independence and that political decisions are taken at provincial level. Municipalities now serve as extensions of Magashule’s patronage network, that now includes Cuban cadres.
Cubans imported by the provincial government will live in a lap of luxury in the province. They will receive massive salaries totalling R185 million over three years. Premier Magashule in a written reply to a question submitted by the DA earlier this year indicated that the Cubans’ salaries will be paid from the payrolls of the provincial departments of COGTA and Health. It appears that Premier Magashule has again wilfully misled the legislature since this massive salary burden has now been conveniently shifted to municipalities.
In a directive issued to Tswelopele and Nketoana Local Municipalities the Head of Department for Human Settlements, Mr N Mokhesi, instructs municipal managers to employ Cuban individuals with the following benefits:
- Annual salaries ranging from R596 118.00 to R670 890.00;
- Free return flights to Cuba as well as transport within South Africa and 120kg of excess baggage allowance to take items back to Cuba after their contracts end;
- Free fully furnished housing units that include furniture, linen, television sets, cutlery, crockery, 24 hour armed response, high security walls or fencing around residences;
- Cellular telephone contracts of R1 200.00 per month.
The DA believes that such directives have been sent to all Free State municipalities.
DA councillors represented in all Free State municipal councils will object to this unconstitutional directive imposed by the provincial government.
The DA also urges all free State Municipal Councils to stand firm and reject this attempt by the provincial government to hijack them.
In most instances, rural municipalities have limited need of these specialised skills which are readily available in South Africa. Premier Magashule is acting as a labour broker for Cuba at the cost of unemployed South Africans.
Nketoana Municipality is already cash strapped. As at May 2015 the municipality owed ESKOM more than R44 million. Collectively, Free State municipalities are almost R3 billion in the red with bulk service providers.
Struggling municipalities are now expected fork out millions of Rands over the contractual period to pay for a bilateral agreement between Cuba and the Free State Provincial Government at the cost of local service delivery. It is clear that an ideological attachment to Cuba by the ANC is prioritised above the employment of, and service delivery to, South Africans.