KZN premier hauled to CCMA after top public servant gets the boot

05 November 2017 - 16:46 By Nathi Olifant
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu. File photo.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu. File photo.
Image: JACKIE CLAUSEN

A former top public servant is hauling KwaZulu-Natal premier Willies Mchunu before the Commission for Conciliation‚ Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) because his contract was abruptly terminated.

Mchunu’s lawyers‚ however‚ want the matter to be resolved at a bargaining council.

Roger Govender‚ ousted head of the provincial public works department‚ said that Mchunu created the impression that his employment contract — which expired in September 2016 — was being extended.

Govender‚ who signed off on controversial renovations worth R32-million at Mchunu’s official residence in Pietermaritzburg‚ accused the premier of being dishonest.

He claimed that Mchunu reneged on guarantees to extend his contract after succumbing to pressure from the ANC to purge him.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) led a delegation last week to the premier’s 137-year-old official residence to investigate upgrades and renovations by the public works department.

Apart from R821‚000 spent on two kitchens and three bathrooms‚ other upgrades will include fixing a swimming pool‚ resurfacing a tennis court‚ fencing‚ extension of the parking lot and re-tarring of roads inside the premises.

The labour dispute hit a deadlock at conciliation level‚ is now at the arbitration stage and is down for a hearing on October 31. Govender wants to be paid out for the remainder of his "extended contract".

TimesLIVE has seen correspondence pertaining to the renewal of the contract. In June 2016‚ three months before his contract was due to end‚ Govender was notified that it was the will of the premier and the MEC of public works that his contract would be extended.

The information is contained in a June 2016 advisory memorandum from the premier’s legal advisor Advocate Louise Janse van Rensburg‚ signed by then acting director-general Dolly Khumalo as well as the premier.

The document forms part of Govender’s grievance papers at the CCMA.

In one of the documents Janse van Rensburg says: “Before the contract was extended for three months a cabinet memo was prepared for the MEC [Ravi Pillay] requesting concurrence from the cabinet for extension of Govender’s contract ... the MEC withdrew the memo at cabinet [and] no explanation was given‚” she said.

This week another Pillay letter dated June 28‚ 2016 emerged where the MEC writes in parts: “I am satisfied with the performance of Mr Govender over the contract period thus far and accordingly recommend that the contract be renewed for a further period of five years.”

Govender concedes that the contract was renewed on September 30 but that it was only extended for another three months as the premier was still “talking to the organisation”.

During that period Govender‚ 61‚ was assured verbally that his contract would be renewed for four years and 10 months‚ to coincide with the date of his retirement and final discharge from the public service.

But on December 13 2016 he received a letter from the premier notifying him of the termination of his employment contract.

Mchunu’s spokesman‚ Ndabezinhle Sibiya‚ said the premier would not comment as the matter was before the CCMA.

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