Protesters picket outside Newcastle Municipality

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Newcastle Municipality made national headlines in November 2019, following the mass dismissal of a staggering 223 employees.

Employees which included refuse collectors, firefighters and traffic officials. Men and women who play an important role in service delivery within the town.

The dismissal follows employees blocking the exits of the council chambers at the show grounds, demanding answers about the non-payment of their overtime. The matter escalating to the point where a brick was thrown at Newcastle Mayor, Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba’s face.

Despite the employees being dismissed in November, the saga continues.

On Wednesday morning, February 12, protesters were chanting outside Newcastle Municipality. Security keeping a watchful eye over them, ensuring the situation did not escalate.

 “We are protesting this morning, regarding the 223 municipal employees who were dismissed unfairly. They were dismissed for demanding their overtime, which was due to them,” says Mandla Mashimimi, the Newcastle chairman for Cosatu.

Mashimimi adds that the Newcastle Municipality did not follow the correct procedures when dismissing the staff.

Mashimimi is also accusing Dr Mahlaba of abusing his power as mayor.

“He is an angry individual and we don’t know why he is so angry. He doesn’t care about the families who are affected through the dismissals. He also doesn’t care about the impact the dismissals have on the town’s service delivery. He is abusing his power and wants to be surrounded by yes men.”

Newcastle Municipality Head of Communications, Mlungisi Khumalo explains the Newcastle Municipality cannot comment on the situation regarding the dismissed staff members.

“If there are grievances, we encourage the affected individuals to follow the proper steps and go to the CCMA and Labour Court. Once they take the necessary steps, we will be able to make further comment.”

Furthermore, regarding service delivery, Khumalo explains the municipality is willing to work closely with the community to address any issues.

While protestors claim the mayor is abusing power, Khumalo urges residents who have any suspicions, accusations or grievances with any municipal member, to rather address the matter with the relevant authorities.

“As a concerned municipality, we adhere to the rule of the law and we will definitely work with the law if and when required,” he emphasised.

What are your thoughts on the situation? Do you as a member of the community feel service delivery is on the decline since the mass dismissal? What steps do you feel the municipality should take to address the matter?

Share your thoughts and opinions with us in the comment section below.

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