Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition)
Board ‘causing instability’
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.