Did parly lie about bur­sary to of­fi­cial?

CityPress - - News - ANDISIWE MAKINANA andisiwe.makinana@city­press.co.za

Par­lia­ment has been caught con­tra­dict­ing it­self over a bur­sary for one of its se­nior man­agers.

It first main­tained that the bur­sary awarded to its newly ap­pointed chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer Unathi Mtya was part of terms and con­di­tions of her em­ploy­ment, be­cause it was first of­fered by her pre­vi­ous em­ployer, the State In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy Agency (Sita).

How­ever, Sita has de­nied of­fer­ing Mtya the ex­pen­sive bur­sary.

Speak­ing for Par­lia­ment two weeks ago, spokesper­son Moloto Mothapo first said: “When Ms Mtya was em­ployed by Par­lia­ment in 2016 fol­low­ing a lengthy search for a suit­ably qual­i­fied per­son to fill the [chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer] po­si­tion, she had al­ready been ac­cepted at said uni­ver­sity [Columbia Uni­ver­sity in New York] and her stud­ies were to be spon­sored un­der her pre­vi­ous em­ployer’s em­ployee bur­sary fund.

“Since Par­lia­ment has a sim­i­lar scheme for its em­ploy­ees, one of the mu­tu­ally agreed terms and con­di­tions per­tain­ing to her em­ploy­ment was that she would ben­e­fit from the in­sti­tu­tion’s bur­sary fund,” said Mothapo.

“This sought to en­sure that her plans to fur­ther her stud­ies were not un­duly prej­u­diced by her join­ing Par­lia­ment,” said Mothapo.

He dis­missed as “out­ra­geously false” claims that Par­lia­ment was send­ing Mtya to Columbia Uni­ver­sity at a cost of R1.1 mil­lion.

This was an al­le­ga­tion made by sev­eral sources, in­clud­ing Par­lia­ment staffers, whose own ap­pli­ca­tions for bur­saries had been de­clined.

City Press had also seen a Par­lia­ment doc­u­ment headed “2017 Bur­sary Ap­pli­ca­tions”, which re­vealed that Mtya wanted to pur­sue a master’s de­gree in tech­nol­ogy man­age­ment at Columbia Uni­ver­sity, at a cost of R1.1 mil­lion.

Mothapo as­serted that Par­lia­ment would only con­trib­ute an amount equiv­a­lent to the cost of a sim­i­lar course at a lo­cal in­sti­tu­tion.

Mothapo also de­fended the award­ing of a bur­sary to another top Par­lia­ment of­fi­cial, Gengezi Mgid­lana, say­ing Mgid­lana’s sit­u­a­tion was not en­tirely dif­fer­ent to that of Mtya.

“As a staff mem­ber, [Par­lia­ment] took over the fund­ing of his stud­ies in line with the train­ing and de­vel­op­ment pol­icy to en­sure that his stud­ies are not un­duly com­pro­mised by his em­ploy­ment by Par­lia­ment,” he said.

Sita dis­putes that it ever of­fered Mtya a bur­sary. The agency told City Press that it had no records that in­di­cate that Mtya, who re­signed from Sita in July last year, was awarded fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance of R1.1 mil­lion; or that she ever ap­plied for bur­sary as­sis­tance from Sita to study at an in­ter­na­tional uni­ver­sity.

The agency’s Bon­tle Tsikwe said the R1.1 mil­lion quoted far ex­ceeded the capped amount that Sita de­ter­mined an­nu­ally for bur­sary al­lo­ca­tions per em­ployee.

She said Sita em­ploy­ees were en­cour­aged to study at lo­cal uni­ver­si­ties, and in the un­like­li­hood of the pre­ferred pro­gramme not be­ing avail­able lo­cally, the or­gan­i­sa­tion re­quired a mo­ti­va­tion from the em­ployee, which would be eval­u­ated ac­cord­ingly.

When pre­sented with Sita’s re­sponse, Mothapo changed Par­lia­ment’s stance, say­ing it had made no sug­ges­tion that Sita would ini­tially pay for Mtya’s stud­ies, in­sist­ing that any in­ter­pre­ta­tion to the con­trary would be highly er­ro­neous.

“Men­tion­ing that ‘her stud­ies were to be spon­sored un­der her pre­vi­ous em­ployer’s em­ployee bur­sary fund’ is sim­ply based on the as­sump­tion that Ms Mtya, as any el­i­gi­ble mem­ber of staff, would have been cov­ered un­der Sita’s bur­sary pol­icy in line with its cri­te­ria, terms and con­di­tions, had she con­tin­ued work­ing at the com­pany,” Mothapo said.

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