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Samwu admits it is insolvent as it battles to pay salaries

Samwu's new leadership which was elected last week said the organisation's savings appear to have been looted, forcing the union to survive from hand to mouth through monthly subscriptions from members.

South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) general secretary Koena Ramotlou. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) has confirmed that it is insolvent and hasn’t been able to consistently pay salaries to staff since August last year.

Samwu's new leadership, which was elected last week, said that the organisation's savings appear to have been looted, forcing the union to survive from hand to mouth through monthly subscriptions from members.

Samwu has been in financial trouble for the past few years, with its former leaders - who were voted out through a motion of no confidence last week - suspected of having looted the organisation's funds.

Newly appointed Samwu general secretary Koena Ramotlou said that things look bleak for the union, with all of the savings it depended on now depleted.

“What is disappointing, which members expect from us to act on, is that there are signs of money doing what it is not supposed to do and there is no trail of action of trying to recoup the money.”

The union has shed thousands of members in the past few years, seeing its income from members decline substantially.

Millions of rand were also spent on legal costs as the union defended itself from disgruntled members.

WATCH: Samwu confirms getting loan from VBS Bank

Former Samwu leaders have appeared before different courts in the country during the past five years over missing funds from the union. Ramotlou said that they plan to follow up on the cases that date as far back as 2015.

Although the Hawks launched an investigation into over R160 million that “disappeared” from Samwu’s coffers, not much has materialised from the intervention.

Ramotlou said they are forced to carry a begging bowl to municipalities in five provinces which decided to stop depositing subscription funds from members to the union when infighting among its leaders escalated.

The union is also at risk of being placed under administration by the Labour Registrar after failing to adhere to strict financial controls in accordance with the Labour Relations Act.

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)

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