Nzimande lays down the law for Setas

2011-12-04 09:37

The former services Seta CEO and eight colleagues are being investigated for paying themselves R40 million in golden handshakes.

The probes by police and the services Sector Education and Training Authority (Seta) come after CEO Ivor Blumenthal got R7.5 million while his two deputies, Treaty Moshoeshoe and Vernon Naidoo, received more than R6 million each when they resigned in April this year.

Five other employees – Blumenthal’s personal assistant Zelda le Roux, company secretary Prelini Bennideen, human resources manager Bonita Brider, learnerships and grants manager Sydney Moonsamy and trade and disability manager Isobel Byleveld – shared more than R17 million.

Blumenthal, through his lawyers, confirmed that he was aware of a police investigation and that he had written to the investigating officer offering his assistance and requesting an opportunity to answer to the allegations. However, he said he had been ignored.

Blumenthal said: “Having successfully litigated various issues on behalf of the services Seta against Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, I cannot but express my grave concern that the criminal justice system may be abused in order to serve some ulterior purpose.”

Seta spokesperson Clara Vilankulu said the matter was now situated within the entity’s legal section and would not comment further.

This week, Nzimande told chairpersons of Setas that the entities must “ensure that the money is spent prudently and for purposes for which it is meant”.

He urged the chairpersons to act decisively against corruption without fear or favour.

“Under your leadership of the Setas I expect nothing less than clean governance.”

In April, Blumenthal approached the Labour Court after Nzimande appointed Dr Sihle Moon as services Seta chairperson and approved a new constitution for the entity.

The court ordered the suspension of the use of the new constitution.

Moon suspended Blumenthal and threatened the Seta employees. Blumenthal – together with the seven colleagues who shared the R40 million – resigned after a court battle.

In an audit of the Seta, Auditor-General Terence Nombembe found that the payment of the severance packages to the employees resulted in inefficient cash management.

The Seta, which has declared the payouts as irregular, said the recipients failed to “act with fidelity, honesty, integrity and in the best interests of the Seta and that the payments amounted to criminal conduct”.

Last month, Nzimande ruled that the salaries and work conditions of chief executives of all Setas must resemble those of directors-general of national departments – averaging between R1.3 million and R1.5 million.

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