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Luthuli House in Johannesburg. Picture: THULANI MBELE
Luthuli House in Johannesburg. Picture: THULANI MBELE

The ANC has been urged to immediately start retrenching staff to restore the party’s financial health.  

Business Day has learnt through three independent sources that a debate ensued at its national executive committee (NEC) meeting last week about how a bloated staff complement and “ghost workers” are the biggest contributors to its financial woes.

The party is essentially broke, having failed to pay workers on time several times amid ballooning tax and provident fund debt.

ANC staff members are engaged in a protracted stayaway due to outstanding salaries.

The call to start a section 189 process is said to have been made by party spokesperson Pule Mabe in the NEC. He is said to have told the meeting that there were staff members who had not done any work since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“He said we must get the organigram where you have to now deal with organisational redesign because now you have to look at how many people have been to work since the start of Covid-19,” said an NEC member. 

“He was saying that basically the ANC owes people who are sitting at home. Because if you can do a proper analysis of how many people are really doing actual work of the organisation versus what you are spending, those things don’t correlate.”

Asked for comment, Mabe said he does not comment on internal party talks and referred Business Day to the ANC statement.

The post-NEC statement said: “The NEC therefore took the following approach on urgent organisational renewal tasks for 2022: complete the organisational design project and budget and urgently address staff issues within the law and our own strategic priorities.”

ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile previously told the NEC the party was looking at retrenching at least 50% of its staff but his office last week said they were not yet at a point where they could immediately start retrenchments.

“That process is not finalised. We are not at a point to finalise the matter. There are proposals that are coming in and are being looked at and all those proposals will be refined before implementation,” said Mashatile’s aide Keith Khoza.

Mabe is said to have questioned what people in positions such as personal assistants were doing now that work was being done virtually.

“He was saying that instead of us embarrassing ourselves, we must just take a decision and retrench people,” the NEC member said.

This is said to have been supported by several NEC members, with others raising alternatives that instead of retrenching people the party should look into deploying them in government departments where they would source income while still doing work for the party. This would bring some relief to the ANC salary bill.

“Well, it was supported in a way, but it was said that you cannot just apply section 189 but you must see how you accommodate the staff especially in government, like the DA does. The DA, its staff is accommodated in government,” said another NEC member.

A third NEC source, however, held a different view. The source confirmed retrenchments were discussed but said this would not work as such a decision would require millions in lump-sum payments, which the ANC does not have.

“You cannot emphasise the issue of retrenchments when you have not secured their benefits and not honoured your obligations. Retrenchments are not the solution to the immediate organisational and financial challenges,” said the source.

The second source said though the national working committee had told the NEC that the organigram was essentially done, they still have not seen it.

“It will help us to know how many staff members are there, where to cut and where not to cut,” said the insider.

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