Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor probes teach­ers

CityPress - - News - MSINDISI FENGU msindisi.fengu@city­

The Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor has launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into South Africa’s pro­fes­sional body for teach­ers fol­low­ing al­le­ga­tions of fi­nan­cial mis­man­age­ment and nepo­tism.

Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane has be­gun an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the SA Coun­cil for Ed­u­ca­tors (Sace), due to al­le­ga­tions that un­qual­i­fied of­fi­cials were ap­pointed to po­si­tions that were not ad­ver­tised.

Two months ago, Mkhwe­bane’s in­ves­ti­ga­tors sent a list of 20 ques­tions to Sace chair­per­son Veron­ica Hofmeester – who is also the vi­cepres­i­dent of the SA Demo­cratic Teach­ers’ Union (Sadtu) – ask­ing for an­swers and doc­u­ments.

The of­fi­cial cor­re­spon­dence, dated De­cem­ber 13, a copy of which City Press has ob­tained, re­veals al­le­ga­tions that:

The chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer ap­pointed him­self with­out hav­ing the rel­e­vant qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

The fi­nan­cial man­ager po­si­tion was cre­ated with­out the po­si­tion be­ing ad­ver­tised.

A Sadtu mem­ber was ap­pointed as chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer with­out the ap­pro­pri­ate qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

An­other Sadtu mem­ber was ap­pointed to the com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager po­si­tion with­out be­ing ap­pro­pri­ately qual­i­fied.

A rel­a­tive of Hofmeester was ap­pointed as a co­or­di­na­tion man­ager on a con­tract ba­sis with a “fat” salary.

A per­for­mance bonus was paid to the chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, the then CEO and other se­nior man­agers be­tween 2006 and 2010 with­out their per­for­mance be­ing as­sessed.

A hu­man re­sources man­ager was ap­pointed with­out the nec­es­sary qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

The chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer’s per­sonal as­sis­tant’s sis­ter was ap­pointed with­out be­ing in­ter­viewed, and later landed a job as a reg­is­tra­tion of­fi­cer.

Long-stand­ing Sace CEO Rej Bri­jraj re­tired last month and has been re­placed by Ella Mok­galane, who will act in the po­si­tion un­til a re­place­ment is ap­pointed.

The Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s spokesper­son, Oupa Se­galwe, con­firmed the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, say­ing it was still “in its early stages” and was fo­cused on the al­leged con­duct of Bri­jraj and Sace.

Se­galwe said re­sponses for some of the ques­tions had been re­ceived and some doc­u­ments that were re­quested had been handed over.

When asked about the al­le­ga­tions, Bri­jraj pointed a fin­ger at Sace staff, say­ing the al­le­ga­tions could have been ped­dled by a “small group of union­ists” while he was still CEO.

“It could be that small group of an­gry staff has been go­ing all over the place to make ma­li­cious and defam­a­tory al­le­ga­tions,” Bri­jraj said.

“We have re­bel­lious staff – not a sig­nif­i­cant group – that has been find­ing fault with the coun­cil and wants to gain lever­age so that the coun­cil ac­cedes to their de­mands.”

Bri­jraj said the group had raised some of the is­sues with him since 2006 and those had been dealt with.

“I don’t know what ben­e­fit they will get if they suc­ceed in col­laps­ing the coun­cil. The coun­cil has al­ways dealt with mat­ters raised,” he said.

Bri­jraj said Sadtu had in­flu­ence as the ma­jor­ity teacher’s union in the coun­cil.

“If the dom­i­nant teacher union is not go­ing to have a say in coun­cil, who is go­ing to have it? Sadtu has in­flu­ence. We live in a ma­jori­tar­ian democ­racy. I’m from Sadtu. You have to have a his­tory in teach­ing mat­ters,” he said.

“Many of our em­ploy­ees come from Sadtu and other sources as well. This is just a dou­ble agenda to dis­credit the coun­cil and Sadtu.”

Bri­jraj said Sadtu de­ploy­ees made mis­takes, but those should not be linked to the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“They don’t pur­pose­fully do wrong. This is just that peo­ple have an axe to grind and are tar­get­ing Sadtu,” he said.

Sace spokesper­son Them­binkosi Ndhlovu said: “Sace is not aware of any in­ves­ti­ga­tion so far, how­ever, Sace has re­ceived an en­quiry from the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor about se­nior ap­point­ments.

“The Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor re­quested copies of ad­verts and qual­i­fi­ca­tions of in­cum­bents, and those have been pro­vided. Sace is co­op­er­at­ing fully,” Ndhlovu said.

By the time of go­ing to print, Hofmeester had not re­sponded to ques­tions sent on Thurs­day.

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