Nehawu members block the N3, call for two KZN MECs to be axed

Members of the National Health, Ed­ucation and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) went on a rampage on Thursday as they called for two KZN MECs to be fired.

To make their point, they went as far as blocking the N3 near the Hilton off-ramp, bringing traffic to a standstill.

Police and traffic officers acted swiftly though to disperse the crowd who were singing and dancing on the busy highway. They had used about 20 cars to block the road.

After police dispersed them, they then went on to cause more traffic jams on the highway as they drove slowly for about five kilometres before they were pulled off by traffic officers, who fined them.

Nehawu members want Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo and Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Themba Mthembu to be axed.

They accuse the two MECs of failing to lead the two departments.

More than 100 Nehawu members demonstrated at the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development head office in Cedara on Thursday, where they blocked the gate.

Matters threatened to get ugly as police fired stun grenades trying to disperse the crowd but the demonstration continued.

They later went to Fort Napier, where mortuary workers have been striking for weeks protesting about working conditions.

The protest continued despite the department issuing an ultimatum on Tuesday for workers to return to work on Wednesday or face jail as the department said any demonstration would be in contempt of court.

They then went to protest outside Natalia building, the Department of Health’s head office.

Nehawu provincial secretary Phakama Ndunakazi said the union’s provincial executive committee had recently resolved that Dhlomo and Mthembu should go.

“Today is just a warning shot. We are going to have a full blown strike. While President Cyril Ramaphosa of Thuma Mina will be here in the province preparing for the January 8 statement, we will be protesting ...” he said.

Ndunakazi said they were concerned about many challenges faced by the KZN Department of Health, including the crisis in the forensic pathology services.

“[We face] problems such as the ridiculous shortage of staff, a lack of tools of trade forcing workers to improvise, and the non-implementation of the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.”

As if this was not enough the “fight against workers” was taken to the public domain and the public set against workers, making them the scapegoats, he said.

Ndunakazi said in their assessment Agriculture and Rural Development MEC lacked the visionary leadership needed to lead the department which is at the centre of the fight against poverty and food insecurity.

Agriculture and Rural Development spokesperson Phathisa Mfuyo said the “attacks” on Mthembu were misguided.

The Department of Health did not respond to queries.