Letter to the Editor of Sowetan re
 Commission on Gender Equality to pay in more than one way
 by UDM National Secretary (11/09/2001)

The Editor
Sowetan – Building the Nation

Dear Editor


I read with great interest that, after all the legal actions, the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) has to give Ms Lowe-Morna, CGE former (or seemingly not so “former”) chief executive officer, back pay as well as footing her legal costs, after their battle of “who is right and who is wrong”.

The CGE is now faced with many sticky decisions and no matter what they do, the Commission will lose much needed money that should have rather been utilised to further their cause. The CGE could possibly take Lowe-Morna back or reach a settlement with her, but, to add another stone in their shoe, the CGE had in the meantime hired another CEO, Zith Mahaye. 

What are their choices? Essentially Lowe-Morna’s contract was never terminated, so in effect the CGE has had two CEOs. Should the Commission decide on one or the other, it is going to cost them money, taxpayers’ money.

The Commission’s Vision and Mission states that it “will avoid an ostentatious and extravagant culture and style”. They should have included “wasteful”, “costly” and “unnecessary”. This unfortunate and seemingly bad decision making, will cost the Commission dearly. Most importantly, after they have footed their own and Lowe-Morna’s legal costs plus compensated her for financial damages, what will be left for the Commissions work? Not to mention the damage caused to their image.

Seemingly somewhere along the line, someone gave and/or took bad advice, whether this be true or not, the fact still remains; a lot of the Commission’s energy and resources was channeled into this legal battle and now, it looks the fool. The public would be interested in, whatever route the Commission takes, what the total amount of rands and man-hours this ordeal cost.

The United Democratic Movement believes that the whole mess could and should have been averted. We respect Lowe-Morna’s decision to take the matter to court and that independent justice has run its course, but in the end no-body really won! 

Unfortunately is seems like personality battles, with a heavy helping of internal politics, has rendered the Commission vulnerable. The UDM would counsel government to look before they leap. Yes, it is crucial to investigate and act when corruption and/or mismanagement is suspected, but make sure of your facts before you hire and fire! 

Although an apology might smooth ruffled feathers and financial compensation might be necessary, as in this case, it does not exonerate Government of their responsibility to govern in a sensible and accountable manner. When will the ANC government learn that the old adage “prevention is better that cure”, is still very relevant.

It will be interesting to see what Government and the Commission have learnt from their latest error. Seen in the light of the above, the UDM is also curious to see if Government will handle the state attorneys’ pay strike, with clear thinking and in a legal and responsible manner.

Yours sincerely
UDM National Secretary 
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