This story still evokes bad memories.
I am finding that when I write these stories and publish them I can let the feelings associated with them go and move on. Or at least try to move on.
When Sbona and I started our new jobs on the 3rd August 2010, we were the butt of every joke in the office. You’d be walking to make tea downstairs and be bombarded with questions about the project and how we might be let go if it doesn’t materialize. We laughed it off and focused on making a success of it.
Finance people wouldn’t even attend our meetings with the donor, they would pop in for like a quick 5 minutes and then disappear. Our work wasn’t important enough.
This changed when another donor was changing direction and there was gonna be less money coming in. A lot of people were suddenly interested in our work. Some wer even instructed to make sure that we fail, so that they could take over our project.
I’m summarizing here because I am trying to tell only my side of the story.
There was suddenly a lot of talk about us being both Zulus and from KZN. Regardless, we got rated A+ by the donor and got to help out other partners with reporting tools and training.
When time came for phase 2 negotiations with our donor, Njandini aka Fakazile was all over it.
She knew dangerously little about the project, the beneficiaries and the HIV and OVC situation in South Africa and would make us all cringe as she made ill-informed statements and demands to the donors who were too polite to call her to order, (unlike the Dept of Health people, a story for another day).
On our way back from one of these negotiations Mnakza and I were asked to go and badmouth a fellow team member to the then director.
In my view, asking us to help her kick a colleague out and us refusing to do it was what started this never-ending war against my colleagues and I.
I will only mention what I was subjected to, the other people involved can tell their stories if they so wish.
I remember saying ‘in my culture we live by the values of Ubuntu, I will never contribute to the demise of a colleague’, to which she replied “that’s just stupidity, so you don’t want to secure your position! People are going to be let go, we are downsizing”.
My hell started with a barrage of emails, (which I still have) where I was told that I was incompetent and that I couldn’t count. Nevermind that I did differential calculus at varsity and actually passed. The then director accused me of being unprofessional by responding to the emails and defending myself. Very telling.
I disproved that narrative a thousand times over.
It didn’t help that a group of people joined us from another organization and I was enemy #1 automatically. They critisized everything I did and said and personalized EVERYTHING.I touched on it when I wrote about Johan. I was the one at fault by default because I had brown skin & they had blue eyes.
New rules started being enforced, petty rules like I couldn’t buy water or coffee unless I am buying breakfast & then breakfast was disallowed altogether. This only applied to me for years.
I had to submit my family members’ contact details to be checked against my phone bill (they had done the same to Sappie). Meanwhile some people were making international calls to friends using company phones.
I am the only PM who has had to report directly to the Sec General of the organization! She had the audacity to tell me that I report with an uppity attitude, that’s why the Director and FM don’t understand the program, when she’d never seen/heard me give a report. So, I reported to her & in turn she would report to Voroso and Njandini🤷
And I was denied a raise when the entire organization got salary increases. They then decided that they would give me an unsolicited revolving loan instead. I wonder what creative accounting was being played here.
I already told the story of being called a racist.
Sometimes I would be set up to react, just so they can prove that I was problematic, an angry black woman🙄.
I resolved to retain a lawyer when things got too technical. After 8 years of working for the organization as a ‘permanent’ employee, I was told that in order to continue working there I would have to forfeit the medical aid, retirement annuity and severance pay. Oh also, I had to agree to a 3 month probationary period.
These people knew about my ongoing health issues and how much I needed my medical aid.
These are church people by the way, so I was really confused as to where God fitted into this whole unsavory sham of an operation. I could not bring myself to attend Mass and pray with people who would have danced on my grave, had I died from all their taunting and abuse. My faith is in God but I started to question if we were talking about the same being when we referred to God. My relationship with God was definitely shaken. Maybe it was shallow and not strong enough to begin with as some people have insinuated, implied and said it outright.
Let me cry about this a bit, maybe I will finish the story someday.
I am definitely not ready to be done with this.