After revoking support for Mdwaba, SA seeks alternative candidate for ILO post

News of the government’s withdrawal of its support for the businessman and activist broke this week – with business bodies urging Cabinet to rethink the decision, which it said was extremely shocking.

Professor Mthunzi Mdwaba. Picture: International Labour Organization ILO/Flickr.

JOHANNESBURG - Eyewitness News can exclusively reveal that Cabinet resolved to pull financial, material and human resource support from Professor Mthunzi Mdwaba’s campaign to be the next International Labour Organisation (ILO) director general in September.

News of the government’s withdrawal of its support for the businessman and activist broke this week – with business bodies urging Cabinet to rethink the decision, which it said was extremely shocking.

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Mdwaba is contesting against several candidates nominated by their respective countries to become the head of the United Nations’ labour agency responsible for global social and economic development through the setting of labour standards.

In the letter seen by Eyewitness News on Friday, Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi urges the department’s director general to communicate the Cabinet decision to withhold its support for Mdwaba to all stakeholders.

With the clock ticking towards March next year when delegates at the ILO’s conference will vote for the next DG, Nxesi writes in the letter that the details of an alternative candidate will be shared in due course.

Without providing any explanation for the decision, Nxesi states in the letter that the recommendation for Mdwaba was not supported by Cabinet.

Attempts to get answers from Cabinet or the minister have not been successful – with the decision shrouded in secrecy.

However, Eyewitness News was informed by several sources that the move was initiated by Nxesi, Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel and supported by President Cyril Ramaphosa who all raised issues about Mdwaba’s personality – describing him as anti-workers and arrogant.

This is despite Mdwaba having been initially approached by business, labour and government to run for the post that would see him becoming the first African to be the ILO’s director general.

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