The registrar of labour relations, the authority empowered with the responsibility to regulate trade unions, employers’ organisations and bargaining councils, has no budget and operates on limited resources. The registrar’s office is part of the collective bargaining unit at the Department of Labour. The current registrar, who was recently appointed, is Lehlohonolo Molefe. The labour registrar can place organisations under administration and deregister them if irregularities relating to a number of governance failures are detected. However, there has always been a blurred line between the administrative and political in the office. Molefe’s predecessor, Johan Crouse, found himself on the wrong side of Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant when he tried to act against Cosatu-affiliated Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers’ Union for not accounting for its finances and failing to abide by its own constitution. The matter was dragged through the Labour Court after Olip...

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