Manzini: Some Baphalali Red Cross Society volunteers based in the Manzini Division are crying foul of the ill-treatment they are allegedly receiving from some supervisors.
Chief among the complaints of the volunteers was that they had been exposed to contracting the Covid-19 because they were set out to teach communities about the disease without being given protective equipment like face masks.
The volunteers further alleged that when they enquired about the protective equipment, they were openly told that they should wait for the society’s superiors. “We were confused and wondered what was the society’s initial plan of sourcing the face masks before the consideration of the project,” one of the affected volunteers told Independent News.
Another thorn in the flesh of the volunteers is the issue of traveling allowances. They claim they sometimes not given the allowances and they were forced to walk for long distances from home to various places and the society seemed less bothered. They also alleged that in some instances, when their supervisors decide to give them the traveling allowance, they are given half of it. “When we are given 50 percent of the allowance, we are not told what happens to the rest,” said the source.
With this alleged treatment, the volunteers told this publication they feel being treated as cheap laborers. “This is so pathetic, to say the least, and we are sure their action will in the short term repel donors from sponsoring the organization and that will affect a lot of emaSwati affected by natural disasters,” the volunteer said.
Regarding communication about their day-to-day work, the volunteers said there was a WatsApp group that was created in which they had always believed was the only communication platform but were shocked to discover that there was another existing one in which favorites were included. “The WatsApp group was formed to segregate us. Those in this new group are those who get first preference in everything before it can be communicated or given to the rest of us,” they alleged. “Some volunteers are more equal than others as they are treated better than the rest of us,” said the source.
The source went on to say those in the second WatsApp group are those who in most of the time get full travel allowances while the others get half. However, they acknowledged that it is not always for all projects that they get traveling allowances, “but we dedicate ourselves and time because we love the people of this country”.
“A lot of wrongs are happening in the Manzini Division and we don’t know if the Head office is aware of such. It is disturbing to notice that some opportunities are supposed to be given to the most dedicated volunteers, but in most cases, we found out that they are given to people we are not even sure if they are volunteers. Upon doing further investigations, we found out that some are related to the officers.
A senior female officer at Red Cross Society Manzini Division who cannot be revealed at this stage is accused of being the mastermind of the ill-treatment of the volunteers. The officer is accused of making the office her own business and cannot take any instructions from her bosses because of her link to the royal family, so no one has the power to be against her.
Confronted to account for all the allegations leveled against her, the accused senior official denied all the allegations saying she was not aware of such. She further said she did not know that they were volunteers who were not happy because of her. She said it is normal that when people are working together, there would be chances of others trying to pull others down and backstabbing. She also denied being linked to the royal family.
“I always treat everyone equally and make sure they are all happy when around me. Pertaining the creation of different WatsApp groups, which is now seen as something meant to segregate our volunteers, I was not the one who did that. I was once made a group administrator but I have never removed anyone from the group. I also vehemently deny I have abused any of our volunteers,” she said.
Sandile Ginindza, the Cooperation Officer in the Manzini Division said he wasn’t aware that they were volunteers who were having challenges as no one reported such incident to him and he is pleading that volunteers should report to him or their branch chairpersons, so they will get the needed help. He added that volunteers are people who they need as a society because their activities are on a volunteering basis. “People who are volunteers are registered with the society and they subscribe to E60 per year and fill a form where they would be kept in the society’s system,” said Ginindza.
Ginindza said volunteers are given money daily depending on the availability of funds. As the principal officer, he advised volunteers to report any maltreatment they might get from their supervisors.
Happy Dlamini, the President of Baphalali Eswatini Red Cross Society started by apologizing to all the volunteers who were affected by the incident. Dlamini promised to take action to find out what is happening on the ground. “We have principles that are guiding us as a society and we have to respect and protect our volunteers. I would like to thank the media for always doing an investigation to such stories as the president I can’t get hold of,” she said. Dlamini highlighted that their volunteers are very important and she was fully aware that some volunteers contracted the virus but fortunately recovered fully.
On the issue of PPEs, Dlamini said they were well equipped as they received a lot from the Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) under the DPM’s office.
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