Ceppwawu’s Thulisile Mashanda’s back against the wall

Johannesburg- Pressure is mounting on the administrator of the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union (Ceppwawu), Thulisile Mashanda, after the registrar of labour relations, Lehlohonolo Molefe, opened the door for a full-scale investigation into her running of the union’s affairs.

In an affidavit, Molefe supported the court bid by the union’s officials that a second administrator is appointed to investigate the affairs of the union.

“I respectfully submit that the applicants have made out a good cause for an urgent investigation into the first respondent’s [Mashanda] administration of the first applicant [Ceppwawu],” reads Molefe’s affidavit in part.

Sunday World last week reported that Ceppwawu, led by its president Thamsanqa Mhlongo, had asked the Joburg High Court to appoint Afzul Ebrahim Soobedaar as an interim co-administrator of the union alongside Mashanda and to probe her for how she had been running the affairs of the union since her appointment in 2020.

One of the allegations made by Mhlongo and his leadership collective is that Mashanda paid the union’s former general secretary Simon Mofokeng just over R1-million as a “retrenchment package”.

Mhlongo, in his affidavit, said the alleged payment to Mofokeng was corrupt.

The Labour Court in 2020 placed Ceppwawu under administration, stripping its leaders of all powers.

Mashanda was then appointed administrator and has been granted powers that include operating or closing existing union’s bank accounts, controlling its funds and finances and determining its annual budget.

Labour Relations Registrar Mr Lehlohonolo Molefe. / Supplied

The tone of Molefe’s affidavit marks an about-turn from the tone he displayed a few months ago in his interaction with the union’s leadership when they raised questions about how Mashanda was running its affairs.

Ceppwawu’s general secretary Welile Nolingo in November dispatched a letter to Molefe asking him to intervene in the affairs of the union, particularly how Ceppwawu Investment (CI) resources were being used.

“During the first 12 months of her tenure, the administrator requested and received R42-million from CI to cover her expenses. This equates to R3.5-million per month … it is the union’s understanding that the administrator has requested a further R72-million from CI … this behaviour, sanctioned by the Department of Labour, can be compared to state capture,” reads in part a letter dated November 25.

Molefe responded to the letter on December 1, telling Nolingo to mind his own business.

Nolingo did not hold back when responding to Molefe, accusing him of “tacitly” approving of Mashanda’s conduct.

This paper previously reported on the apparent conflict of interest by Mashanda after it emerged that she appointed a company in which she is an active
director to provide services to the union.

Sunday World has seen two proofs of payments dated August 2020 to professional services firm Kreston that total nearly half a million rand. According to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission records, Mashanda became the director of Kreston in 2019.

Confronted with the conflict of interest allegations, Mashanda said: “My full professional background was disclosed prior to my appointment as administrator.”

Mashanda, who is a qualified chartered accountant, was last month appointed by the cabinet as a board member of the Land Bank.

She also sits on the Ithuba board.

Mashanda declined to comment.

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