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December 11, 2018

G-Spot: Of leaders who preach water but drink wine

We’ve all come across people whose personal motto is: ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ Such people are always busy posting what one critic called “inspirational schlock” about how to make the world a “kinder, gentler” place, while stirring up discontent around them.

These are the people in charge of a country’s education system and are constantly talking it up, but would rather stick hot needles in their eyes than send their own children through the same system, educating them abroad instead.

Lumka Yengeni, a ruling party MP in South Africa, chairs a parliamentary committee on labour. She stands accused of being a “madam from hell” by her former domestic worker Lucia Dlephu, whom she had taken on to look after her old and ailing mother.

Dlephu has taken her former boss to South Africa’s Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). This independent statutory body was set up to provide information on good labour practice or as another writer once put it, South Africa’s “very own employee employer policeman; to protect and to serve workers and employers by encouraging amicable conflict resolution.” 

I believe every country should have a CCMA, but more about that another time, today it is about the hypocrisy of our so-called leaders.

According to Dlephu’s suit at the CCMA, the MP forced her to work 24 hours for below the minimum wage for domestic workers in main areas of R10.95/Sh73.33 per hour and shouted at her for daring to ask for paid leave. 

In South Africa, the law says that  workers get a minimum of 21 consecutive days of annual leave each year. Employers must pay workers the equivalent amount for annual leave as paid for days worked. This is to be paid before the workers leave period. Employers cannot pay workers instead of granting leave, except on termination of employment.

Last year when Ms Yengeni the MP was wearing her defender of the labourers hat, she condemned employers who did not comply with labour laws, saying their transgressions necessitated and validated the need  for a strictly monitored national minimum wage.

What a shame that she did not see it fit to heed her own advice.

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