Nehawu wants top parliamentary official suspended for giving herself a rent discount
Public sector union Nehawu has called for the immediate suspension of the acting secretary to parliament, Baby Tyawa, who racked up debt of nearly R80,000 after giving herself a discount on her rent.
The Sunday Times revealed at the weekend that Tyawa occupied an upmarket apartment owned by the department of public works but has continuously failed to fully meet her rent obligations.
The newspaper reported that Tyawa granted herself a “unilateral” discount on the rent, opting to only pay R10,000 instead of R16,000 which the department required.
Parliament has no policy allowing its officials to occupy apartments owned by the department of public works.
Nehawu on Sunday said Tyawa should be suspended immediately to make way for an investigation into the matter.
“Our view is that placing the acting secretary on suspension will enable any committee or person that would have been appointed to conduct the investigation to do so without any interference or intimidation from Ms Tyawa,” Nehawu’s parliament branch secretary Temba Gubula said.
“The union believes that if Ms Tyawa is allowed to continue being in parliament during the investigation, she may hinder the investigation or intimidate witnesses by using her position of power and influence.”
Tyawa gave herself the discount despite a handsome salary of R3.2m a year.
Tyawa has been the acting secretary to parliament, effectively its CEO, since June 2017 after the suspension and subsequent dismissal of Gengezi Mgidlana.
“We further believe that the refusal by the acting secretary to parliament to pay the R16,000 rent for her apartment to the department of public works, which led to her accumulating almost R80,000 rental debt, is nothing else but a flagrant abuse of power that she has become accustomed to,” Gubula said.
“Ms Tyawa earns millions of rand, but complains about paying rent and yet she does not want to pay workers their legitimately earned performance bonuses ... How does she expect our lowly paid members to afford rent, when someone with her financial muscle demands to stay at a posh apartment for close to nothing?”
Gubula said the power given to her in parliament made her think she was “untouchable and above the law”.
“Hence we are calling on the presiding officers to urgently institute a disciplinary hearing against her and put an end to this unbecoming conduct,” Gubula said.
Tyawa said this week she had balked at paying the R16,000 a month that public works had set as the rent, and no-one had objected.
“When I rented that apartment, they charged me R16,000. I said to them, 'Based on what? What policy can you actually give to me, because your apartments stay empty for years. At least if I rent it, this is how much I will pay, which is the rental,'" she told Sunday Times.
“I said I don't want a subsidy, I want to pay rental. Then I paid the R10,000 which they didn't say, 'No, you are wrong.'”
Tyawa said she had decided to pay a reduced rent because there was no standard fee and the public works figure was “unfair”.
“They couldn't explain what informs that rental. I don't know how they work out these things because some people stay for free, others pay R250, so I just said, 'This is what I will pay.'”