Mathonsi gets his post in lo­cal gov­ern­ment after all

CityPress - - News - PADDY HARPER paddy.harper@city­press.co.za

KwaZulu-Natal’s pow­er­ful provin­cial SA Demo­cratic Teach­ers’ Union (Sadtu) sec­re­tary, Mbuyiseni Mathonsi, has been ap­pointed Premier Senzo Mchunu’s chief of staff.

There was no for­mal an­nounce­ment but Mathonsi, who was re-elected by Sadtu for a third time just months ago, started his new job in Mchunu’s of­fice this week.

Mathonsi (44) was most re­cently in the news when he worked along­side KZN at­tor­ney Com­fort Ngidi to run a cam­paign aimed at dis­cred­it­ing Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela’s re­port into se­cu­rity up­grades at Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s Nkandla home.

His union is un­der pres­sure in KZN as a panel ap­pointed by Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Angie Mot­shekga starts its work in earnest, prob­ing al­le­ga­tions of a job­s­for-cash scam in­volv­ing se­nior Sadtu mem­bers in KZN and else­where.

Mathonsi is on the list of state wit­nesses to be called at the trial of six men – in­clud­ing Sadtu of­fi­cial Mfundi Sibiya – for killing the union’s Ugu re­gional chair­per­son Nkosi­nathi Zondi.

Zondi, a school prin­ci­pal on KZN’s south coast, was al­legedly mur­dered be­cause he blew the whis­tle on cor­rup­tion in­volv­ing Sibiya and other of­fi­cials.

Mathonsi, a deputy school prin­ci­pal and full-time Sadtu shop stew­ard, re­cently missed the cut for the ANC’s KZN par­lia­men­tary list de­spite the anti-Madon­sela cam­paign and his own vig­or­ous role in the ANC elec­tion cam­paign ahead of the May elec­tions.

Mchunu’s spokesper­son, Nd­abez­inhle Sibiya, con­firmed the ap­point­ment to City Press, say­ing Mathonsi had started his work as head of min­istry – or chief of staff – in the premier’s of­fice this week.

But he “re­jected with all the con­tempt it de­serves” sug­ges­tions that Mathonsi was be­ing re­warded for his pub­lic de­fence of Zuma.

Sibiya said the job en­tailed man­ag­ing the premier’s support staff and co­or­di­nat­ing his in­ter­ac­tion with gov­ern­ment de­part­ments and “gen­eral stake­hold­ers”.

“It will al­low a greater fo­cus on mak­ing an im­pact on the ground in terms of ser­vice de­liv­ery,” Sibiya said.

“The premier is con­fi­dent that Mr Mathonsi will work with other branches within his of­fice and other heads of min­istries to en­sure an ef­fec­tive co­or­di­na­tion of the work of th­ese stake­hold­ers, so that they are part of the pro­gramme of ac­tion of the KZN gov­ern­ment,” Sibiya said.

Both Mathonsi and Sadtu’s provin­cial chair­per­son Mabutho Cele de­clined to com­ment.

It is un­der­stood that Sadtu will hold a provin­cial gen­eral coun­cil at which a new sec­re­tary will be elected. Mathonsi’s deputy, Marashiya Caluza, is act­ing as his re­place­ment. Union­ists are stunned by Mathonsi’s move.

“This ex­plains why he didn’t stand as deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary as planned at the Sadtu congress. It is strange though that he stood in the prov­ince in July know­ing that he was go­ing to leave,” said a for­mer col­league who asked not to be named.

The DA’s leader in KZN, Sizwe Mchunu, said while the op­po­si­tion party wanted to be­lieve the premier would ap­point staff on merit “this does to an ex­tent smell of cadre de­ploy­ment”.

“It ap­pears that in this case we are see­ing the ANC’s pol­icy of cadre de­ploy­ment at work,” he said. “This is of con­cern to us.”

Mbuyiseni Mathonsi

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