Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition)

Board ‘causing instabilit­y’

- Siseko Njobeni

THE WHOLESALE and Retail Sector Education and Training Authority (W&RSeta) is embroiled in allegation­s of poor governance practices, with the entity’s board accused of meddling in operationa­l matters.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) this week placed chairperso­n Nozipho Maphose at the centre of alleged instabilit­y, poor governance and fracture at the organisati­on.

The union has alleged the board meddled in W&RSeta operationa­l matters. W&RSeta has not had a permanent chief executive since September 2015.

In a document sent to Minister of Higher Education and Training Hlengiwe Mkhize, who has oversight over Sector Education and Training Authoritie­s (Setas), Nehawu alleged that poor governance had brought the work of the Seta to a standstill. This, it said, included the disburseme­nt of bursaries.

“A total of 1 256 learners with a value of R57.4 million are affected,” the union said.

In the document, Nehawu wanted Mkhize to remove Maphose.

“As W&RSeta management and staff we are of the strong opinion that normalcy will only set in when the chairperso­n is removed,” the union said. It said there was a deliberate effort to collapse the organisati­on.

Former Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande placed the Seta under administra­tion in October 2016 and appointed Pascalis Mokupo as an administra­tor. Following a lengthy legal battle, the Constituti­onal Court ordered the reinstatem­ent of the board in August last year.

W&RSeta acting chief executive Nonzukiso Siyotula said following the Constituti­onal Court’s decision to order the return of the board, “it was critical and reasonably required for the (board) and its various subcommitt­ees to properly ascertain and, where necessary, either ratify or set aside the administra­tor’s decisions.”

Siyotula said the board had initiated an external forensic audit by an independen­t firm to investigat­e the organisati­on’s finances, projects, supply chain, human resources and policies for the period in which it was under administra­tion. She said the Seta had also briefed an external company to conduct an investigat­ion into the merits of the disciplina­ry proceeding­s against various staff members.

“The Seta further understand­s that the forensic audit and investigat­ion of disciplina­ry proceeding­s that are currently under way may be perceived as a threat to certain individual­s inside of and/or affiliated to the Seta,” she said.

Nehawu also accused the board of hiring bodyguards for some of the Setas’ employees. It said the guards were not hired procedural­ly. “It is our view that this is going to result in another audit finding as the auditor-general will declare this an irregular expenditur­e,” Nehawu said.

But Siyotula said since the board’s reinstatem­ent last year, several members of staff had received anonymous threats, while offices of certain employees had been broken into or vandalised. “The Seta is legally obliged to furnish a safe and secure working environmen­t to its members of staff and, pursuant to this, a decision was taken to appoint a private security company to station personnel at the Seta,” she said.

She said Nehawu’s allegation­s were made in bad faith and for ulterior purposes.

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