Did parly lie about bursary to official?
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.