Mbombela municipality in gender crisis

Feb 06 2013 16:46
Johannesburg - Organisations should adopt business plans to achieve meaningful gender transformation, the Commission for Gender Equality (GCE) said on Wednesday.

"Transformation requires a business plan incorporating targets and strategies, and innovation," commissioner Janine Hicks said during a public hearing in Johannesburg.

She was presenting the commission's closing statement after a hearing on the Mbombela local municipality's attempts to address transformation in the workplace.

Mbombela municipal manager Xolani Mzobe acknowledged that in terms of gender parity the situation at the municipality was "not as rosy as it should be".

He said the municipality did have employment equity targets, but acknowledged that the organisation fell below these goals.

Mzobe said: "One of the problems you always face is to balance the rights of the employee with equity."

In some cases, a male employee with the required skills and experience could not be appointed to a particular position, because a woman was needed in terms of employment equity.

Deputy chairperson of the CGE Thoko Mpumlwana said Mbombela local municipality had "a lot of work to do".

"Equality means equality," she said.

Mzobe said councillors needed training with regard to gender transformation. "I have the greatest respect for them, but they are not all literate in these issues."

The commission found there appeared to be a disconnect between policy statements and implementation and accountability with regard to gender and disability transformation in the municipality.

Earlier, it ruled that Msukalingwa municipal manager Thami Dlamini was in contravention of the CGE Act and liable for criminal charges.

This was after he failed to attend a CGE hearing on Wednesday despite being subpoenaed to do so.

This was because he had to attend to a water crisis, which emerged in December.

Mpumlwana said gender transformation was in a "long-term crisis".

If the municipality took transformation seriously the CGE should have been contacted to reschedule the hearing, she said.

Dlamini and Mzobe failed to attend the initial hearings in October to account for the slow pace of gender transformation in the workplace.

This prompted the CGE to obtain subpoenas for both to appear at the hearings on Wednesday.

While Dlamini was liable for criminal charges, CGE chairperson Mfanozelwe Shozi said it would not pursue the matter, provided Dlamini co-operated with the commission in future.

The matter would be referred to the Equality Court to determine "a suitable remedy", Shozi said.

Dlamini was also required to send the CGE a letter of apology within seven working days.

"The costs of the hearing [on Wednesday] will be borne by [Dlamini], alternatively the Msukalingwa municipality," Shozi said.

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