Mannya hits back

2012-01-29 11:08

Embattled Eastern Cape education head says he’s consulting his attorney and won’t be abused

Before a high-level meeting between the ANC and provincial government leaders could decide his fate today, embattled Eastern Cape education head Modidima Mannya hit back, saying he will not be “abused”.

Mannya has been at the centre of a storm since the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) asked last year that he be removed from office – a decision backed by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, but ignored by President Jacob Zuma and Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet.

Since the beginning of 2012, teaching has ground to a near halt as Sadtu, which represents about 53 000 teachers in the province, has been on a go-slow in a bid to exert pressure on provincial leaders to remove Mannya.

But the education boss was in a defiant mood when City Press spoke to him yesterday, saying no evidence can be brought to justify the calls being made by the unions.

“I’m not concerned about what Sadtu and the minister have to say about me. I won’t get involved in a mud-slinging battle with them on these issues. I won’t resign because despite all these allegations there has been no evidence offered. There are procedures and processes in public service,” he said.

He added that the decision to terminate temporary teachers was taken in June 2010, while he only joined the department in November that year. Scholar nutrition and transport programmes had both already collapsed and no funds were left in the coffers. He said he did not regret these decisions.

“No one is even asking who my predecessor (Ronnie Swartz, now an advisor to Motshekga) was. They just want to make me the target, when I was just continuing what was already implemented.”

Sadtu is demanding:
» Government probe tenders and contracts awarded by Mannya;

» The reinstatement of all temporary teachers whose contracts were cancelled last year;

» A review of this year’s post provisioning, which they claim was done without consultation, and

» The immediate lifting of suspensions of members, payment of monies owed to teachers, and filling of all district director posts.

Sadtu also wants Motshekga to take up the reins in the implementation of national government’s section 100 constitutional takeover of education in the province.

This week Cosatu waded in, with general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, accompanied by the national leaders of other unions, touching down in the Eastern Cape to intervene.

A series of meetings with provincial Sadtu leaders, Kiviet, and ANC provincial leadership were held, where it is understood Vavi championed Sadtu’s call for Mannya’s removal.

While parties are mum on developments, City Press is reliably informed that the province – which has backed Mannya through thick and thin – asked for space to figure out how to handle the issue, and for more evidence to justify their call.

A Sadtu leader in the province, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time because our calls were being ignored by both the ANC and government (in the province). But now they’ve got no choice but to listen that this man is not good for education in the province.

“He is killing education by removing teachers from classrooms, but we get condemned for going on strike over what he does,” said the leader.

“Today we’re confident things will go our way when the secretary (Vavi) gets back.”

When approached for comment Kiviet would only say today’s meeting is a follow-up. “There are a whole lot of issues pertaining to education that we will discuss,” she said.

City Press is in possession of Motshekga’s letter to Kiviet last August, in which she asks Mannya to be placed on precautionary suspension.

She reiterated as much this week at an education indaba held at Mount Frere. Motshekga was quoted as saying: “I can safely say the removal of Mannya is not in my power. It is my preference, I can confess, but it’s not in my power to do so.”

Motshekga, who was placed in charge of the intervention by cabinet, had previously clipped Mannya’s powers and installed educationalist Matanzima Mweli as accounting officer.

However this was later overturned by Zuma, who Motshekga had asked to intervene after her decision was met with resistance by Mannya and the province.

Meanwhile, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s office is also investigating maladministration allegations against Mannya, which include the reconstruction of mud schools and the awarding of tenders for stationery.

Mannya said: “The Public Protector’s office is conducting this investigation in the media and I will be taking this matter up. I’m consulting with my attorney and won’t be abused.”

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