The Democratic Alliance, Parliament’s largest opposition party, is to ask the Registrar of Military Trade Unions for an “urgent review” of the status of the South African Security Forces Union (SASFU).
This after further attacks by SASFU on the integrity of the Chief of the SA Navy, Vice Admiral Johannes Refiloe Mudimu, whom the union reportedly wants to remove from office.
DA shadow defence minister David Maynier says in a statement SASFU president and naval engineering officer Lieutenant Commander Bhekinkosi Mvovo is “inferring that Mudimu is a ‘traitor`”.
SASFU has in recent days vowed to continue their campaign for his removal. Maynier says SASFU claimed in a statement released yesterday that Mudimu has “failed the Navy and black people in particular”.
Mvovo Sunday also alleged that Mudimu had been disrespectful of President Jacob Zuma, which Mudimu has denied.
Maynier says this “continued COSATU-style campaign for the removal of Vice Admiral Mudimu is outrageous. Lieutenant-Commander Mvovo appears to be behaving less like a responsible commissioned officer and president of a military trade union and more like a ‘Julius Malema in uniform`.”
The DA MP says he wants the Registrar of Military Trade Unions to review of the recent statements of Mvovo and to consider terminating the registration of Sasfu on the grounds that they have acted outside the provisions of regulations governing military trade unions in the SANDF.
In particular, Sasfu appears, in contravention of the regulations, to: –
· be politically affiliated or associated with a political party – namely the ANC or a faction of the ANC;
· be organisationally affiliated or associated with a trade union or labour federation – namely COSATU; and
· reportedly be threatening that members of the union would go on strike in support of doctors and nurses if negotiations between the government and Cosatu fail on the Occupational Specific Dispensation.
Mudimu did not yesterday respond to the matter, other than saying in conversation with journalists on the sidelines of a naval parade at Saldanha that “the young man is saying strange things.”
The National Assembly`s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans Wednesday added its voice to the defence department`s concern the day before.
“We regret and denounce this course of action and appeal that the independence and integrity of the Chief of the South African Navy be respected,” committee chairman Mnyamezeli Booi said in a rare statement from a portfolio committee.
The statement, supported by all parties, added that the committee “is aware of the grievances and frustrations of military trade unions as expressed in correspondence received to date and urges that these grievances be voiced in a responsible manner without compromising military discipline and professionalism.
“The Committee wishes to reiterate its previous invitation to military unions and other stakeholders to approach the Committee with any concerns. This will assist the Committee to, on behalf of all South Africans, exercise its constitutional oversight obligation over the Department.”
Mvovo`s motives remain unclear. It was court-martialled last year for being absent without leave in 2007 when he attended a Parliamentary session as a SASFU official rather than a naval parade. He is said to be ambitious and is a graduate engineer, one of a few in the SA Navy, where his qualification is a scarce skill.
Mvovo has been promoted since his disciplinary brush and was recently selected to serve as a flag commander on Mudimu`s personal staff, a prestigious post. Engineering officers are however not in the executive line and may encounter a glass ceiling. In the same way command of the world`s air forces is dominated by pilots, navies are by combat officers.