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Deputy Chairperson of Amatola Water Board
Management Committee and
Most of it all Journalist from various media houses
And all that have joined through various platforms
I greet you all.
Let me apologise for this urgent Media Briefing that we call on a Saturday morning.
There are matters that have to be dealt with timeously or else they will lose momentum.
It is also in our interest that matters of interest to the public are dealt with immediately.
Coming to the statement
AMATOLA WATER BOARD ACTED ON ITS CAPACITY IN THE MATTER OF THE
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Amatola Water received the CCMA outcome on the matter between Amatola Water
Board and the CEO Ms Vuyo Zitumane. The outcome was then submitted to the legal
team that deals with the matter to look at it and advise accordingly. They have given
the organisation the advice and in due process the media houses will be privileged to
get the information on the advice. It will be prematurely to divulge the advice at this
We want to make it categorically clear that we will be taking the CCMA Arbitration
outcome on review. We think it is fundamentally flawed, based on a third party, the
Minister, who is not party to the employer-employee dispute. An arbitration that throws a
case based on a third party, the Minister, is counterintuitive and can only be viewed as a
targeted judgement on the person of the Minister. Even if for some inconceivable
reason the Minister had somehow instructed the Board to suspend the CEO, the
Arbitration would still need to be based on whether the Board as the Employer (and not
the Minister) acted fairly in suspending its employee, based on the merits of suspension
and there is no need for the Minister to be party to the judgement or even be mentioned.
The CCMA outcome gives an impression of being externally written for the Arbitrator to
target the person of the Minister. If the Arbitrator decided to make the Minister part of
the process, then she would have had to be given a chance to respond. This CCMA
outcome does not stand even the most basic legal scrutiny.
Ms Vuyo Zitumane was put on precautionary suspension with full pay by the
Chairperson of the Board implementing the resolution of the Board. The Board acted on
its capacity as the board of Amatola Water. In this instance, I would like to state it
clearly that, there is no involvement of the Minister in this matter. Amatola Water Board
is a legal entity that conducts its own business more so when issues are employer
employee matters. This is the matter that is solely handled by the Amatola Water Board
as the employer to the Chief Executive. Ms Zitumane can attest to the fact that she was
part of the Board meeting where she was informed of her precautionary suspension by
the Board and she accepted the decision of the Board as it was intended to give the
board space without interference.
The matter of precautionary suspension is neither a vindictive nor a punitive action
against the employee. This is in terms of the Constitution of the Republic of South
Africa, every employee has a right to fair labour practice which includes the right to be
presumed innocent until proven guilty and the due process that takes into consideration
the rules of natural justice that is, audi alteram partem rule. Amatola Water has no
intention to be vindictive or punitive against anyone. The investigations have been
finalised and the charges against Ms Zitumane are many and very serious. She is not
expected to be back at the office unless she has been given a chance to answer on the
charges put against her.
It is understandable and imaginable that this can cause a lot of uneasiness especially to
stakeholders, as it has the ability to create panic and uncertainty with regard to Amatola
Water operations. I would like to take this opportunity and reassure our stakeholders
that operations are ongoing and the employees of this institution are committed to
provide services as usual. This legal feud has no potential of causing disruptions in the
provision of services by Amatola Water and this institution is sensitive to the importance
of water in fighting the pandemic and beyond this era.
Issued by Amatola Water
For more information contact Amatola Water Board Chairperson: Mr Malotana on
082 964 9335.