Mbabane: The Central Medical Stores (CMS) Assistant Director Themba Motsa and the staff are at loggerheads over alleged unfair labour practises and threats.
Basically, the genesis of the matter is alleged unfair treatment imposed by CMS Assistant Director, Themba Motsa to his subordinates.
Independent News has learnt that the staff members have a list of grievances which have not been attended to or there were no satisfactory responses or action taken by the ministry senior officials. The last straw was when about seven (7) CMS staff members allegedly endured physical and emotional harassment by the Police (REPS) CID officers, reportedly set upon them by the Assistant Director.
According to a letter directed to the Health Ministry Principal Secretary, Dr Simon Zwane, detailing the grievances, which Independent News has seen, on May 28, 2020, three staff members were embarrassed and harassed while along the way to the old CMS. It is alleged the assistant director came driving in a government vehicle that he is alleged to be abusing with the CIDs and he directed them to search the staff members in full view of the public. The names of the staff members are deliberately withheld.
The letter went on to state that on the same day, the storekeeper at the ART department whose name is also known to this publication, was also subjected to humiliating body search by the same CIDs while coming out of the male toilets inside CMS.
Independent News also established that three more CMS staff members were arrested on June 12, 2020 and detained at Sigodvweni Police Station and were released on a fine of E500 per person. Their name are known to this publication but they are also deliberately withheld.
The letter went on to detail that, to their surprise on the following day after their arrest, CMS Senior Stores Officer allegedly threatened one of them and told him that “the worse is still yet to come.”
The workers alleged that, the very same senior officer, more often open the warehouse with other stores officers during the weekends without any written authority from the Ministry of Health.
Sources close to the matter revealed that the senior stores officers would come to the warehouse and switch off the CCTV cameras and it could not be established what were their intentions.
Vote of no confidence
Independent News has also gathered the combined CMS staff committees; being the Wellness Committee and the Shop Stewarts Committee passed a vote of no confidence on the office/officer the Assistant Director of CMS Themba Motsa.
The committees told Zwane to replace Motsa with someone else who will work towards achieving CMS goals and vision and provide good service to facilities and the end users which in this case are patients.
The committees said they want the PS to remove the assistant Director as the staff fear for the loss of their jobs. Motsa is also alleged to have insulted an officer and said the officer is not grateful for being absorbed into civil service.
An employee who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity said: “We find it very hard to work under Motsa’s directorship as he sometimes insults staff members or even threatens to fire us.” The worker said Motsa does not listen to staff members whenever they have grievances instead he does not treat them fairly as some employees are given special treatment like being driven to and from home using the state cars.
Independent News was also made to believe that at the institution, there are new employees who have been hired under contract bases and interestingly they were allegedly told by Motsa that they should not to interact with the permanently employed workers. Another staff members said they did not understand why the Deputy Director issued such an instruction, how are they supposed to work with the new staff if they are told not to meddle?
In an interview with this publication, National Public Services and Allied workers union (NASPAWU), Manzini Branch Secretary Dumisani Nkuna revealed that their members who are employed at CMS have voiced out a lot of grievances of unfair labour practices, insults and threats. Nkuna said this is allegedly done to the workers by the CMS Deputy Director Themba Motsa and other senior management of the institution. Nkuna said this happens mostly to the Shop Stewarts of the union.
Nkuna made an example of CMS Data Clerk who has been acting for about 24 years but still not permanently employed and apparently Motsa reportedly told this staff member that as long as he is the boss at CMS, he will not hire him instead he will fire him and get someone else to fill his position.
An investigation by this publication has uncovered that the workers’ union on August 6, held a meeting with PS Zwane at Cooper Centre Mbabane. Independent News understands that during the meeting, the PS told the CMS Shop Stewarts and branch executive committee to go back to their drawing board and meet with Motsa on the issues at hand to find lasting solution.
Following the Principal Secretary’s directive, this publication has established that the union went back to ask for a meeting with Motsa so they can talk things through. Our sources said, unfortunately, the accused assistant Director (Motsa) has been shifting poles hence the meeting could not take off until the Wellness Committee at CMS wrote another letter to the PS pleading for his urgent intervention by removing the current Deputy Director and find someone else
On October 7, the union decided to write another letter signed by NAPSAWU Manzini Branch Secretary, Dumisani Nkuna, in which they gave the PS a seven days ultimatum.
NAPSAWU snow anticipate taking CMS workers’ grievances to CMAC after means to resolve the issues internally with the department’s boss proved futile.
When sought for comment, CMS Deputy Director Themba Motsa denied to respond to the reporter’s questions, instead he was quick to say all questions relating to the work of CMS should be directed to the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health.
Motsa said he is just a government worker and not responsible for responding to the media on such matters.
Principal Secretary Dr. Simon Zwane confirmed receipt of the CMS grievances and the meeting he held was held with the CMS staff-representatives, management, and unions. However, he could not give details of the meeting but only said further meetings between the parties for addressing the concerns are on-going.
Dr. Zwane insisted that his Ministry is working on all the issues at CMS and they will find a way to rectify them.