Sunday Times 18 August 2019

Taxpayer funds to the tune of millions, given to the ANC to run its parliamentary caucus, are being illegally diverted to pay R25,000 a month to 99 regional party workers who should not be on the payroll.

This startling allegation is contained in a confidential document drafted by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), which is fighting the party’s plans to retrench 124 of its caucus employees.

The ANC has said the lay-offs are necessary because its disappointing showing in the May elections – its vote share dropped by nearly five percentage points – caused a cut in financial support from parliament. It also lost seats in 2014.

According to the document, which the union submitted to the office of ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina this week, the ANC takes R32m from its annual administrative allowance to pay the salaries of 99 party agents, who should be on the payroll of Luthuli House or of ANC provincial offices.

Diverting the allowance would be a clear breach of parliament’s policy on administrative and constituency allowances, which states that the funds can only be used to finance caucus operations and may not be spent on party political activities.

The ANC caucus has a support staff component of 460, but the party is planning to lay off 124 employees after it lost seats in the May elections.

The election result means the party will now receive R68m a year in administrative allowances, down from the R75m a year it has been receiving since 2014.

The party’s constituency allowance, which it used to set up 240 public consultation offices across the country, is shrinking by R17m to R193m this year.

All parties that win seats in the National Assembly receive an administrative and constituency allowance, which is distributed in proportion to their representation. The ANC lost 19 of its MPs in the May election.

Caucus employees are paid from the administrative allowance while those who staff the 240 constituency offices in wards around the country are paid from the constituency allowance.

Nehawu says the ANC is dipping into both allowances to pay the 99 regional party agents in a clear abuse of the allowances.

Insiders said the issue of the diversion of the allowance was first raised by caucus staff members at a heated meeting with Majodina and her deputy, Dorries Dlakude, last week.

Affected employees wanted to know why support staff members, and not the party “apparatchiks”, were being sacrificed.

In the document submitted to Majodina, Nehawu proposed that ANC provincial offices should be responsible for the salaries of the 99 organisers.

The party agents provide support services for ANC branches and mobilise communities ahead of ANC rallies and door-to-door campaigns. 

One disgruntled caucus staffer, who asked not to be named, said: “It’s a serious issue that can create problems for the ANC if the auditor-general was to look into this.”

Majodina has declined to comment. ANC spokesman Pule Mabe could not be reached for comment.

Khaya Xaba, spokesperson for Nehawu in parliament, said the union had held 10 meetings with the management of the ANC caucus so far in an attempt to save the jobs of those facing retrenchment.

The auditor-general’s office does not examine the way parties spend their parliamentary allowances. Parties are only required to submit “audited financial statements” to the secretary to parliament.

Parliament’s spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said he was unable to comment on allegations.

In terms of the party allowance policy, parties are required to submit audited financial statements to the secretary to parliament to ensure monies had been spent for their intended purpose and future allocations are withheld if there’s “unsatisfactory compliance”.

Independent political analyst Ralph Mathekga said parties would continue abusing their parliamentary allowances as long as parliament did not tighten the rules.

“We need a complete overhaul and start demanding from parties what do they do in their constituencies,” he said.

“If we continue like this, forget it. The money is going to end up in political functions; I know many stories of what that money was used for in Limpopo which has nothing to do with constituencies.”

ANC caucus staffers have proposed that those facing the axe be absorbed by other government departments and municipalities.

They have also suggested that they be given help to set up co-operatives and businesses enterprises that would do business with the government and state-owned enterprises, “in return for supporting the organisation”.

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