KZN teacher shambles

2011-10-19 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Education Department cannot account for how its employees accumulated R2,9 billion in leave owing to them.

It has incurred over R84 million in irregular expenditure and has no handle on how many teachers are moonlighting in other jobs without permission. There is also no control on employees bidding for contracts within the department.

However, on the current no work, no pay issue, in which the department has been taken to court by its employees, it is determined not to pay striking workers.

These details emerged during a standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) hearing in the KZN Legislature yesterday. Members expressed shock and disappointment that the department once again received a qualified audit after two successive clean audits.

Chairperson Makhosi Khoza asked whether the department has control over its financial systems.

The poor record-keeping on leave was a basis for qualification. The Auditor-General (A-G) found that the department could not provide sufficient evidence as leave files did not have all the leave forms and some files appeared to be missing.

Democratic Alliance education spokesperson Tom Stokes said the audit showed the widespread failure of the department to manage the leave records of tens of thousands of teachers. “More than 54 000 teachers and officials have recorded leave in excess of 100 days,” Stokes said.

Department chief financial officer Hlengiwe Mcuma said a project is under way to audit and reconcile all leave records. As for staff moonlighting and doing business within their own department, Mcuma said no directive has been issued in this regard.

The DA’s Mark Steele noted the tone of the department’s response to comments where it was in dispute with the A-G’s findings. He said the comments were inappropriate and should not have been presented in a Scopa report.

Education HOD Dr Nkosinathi Sishi apologised for the tone of the response, which he agreed was defensive, but said it was not intended to be so.

On the no work, no pay dispute being waged in the courts, Sishi said children suffered during the strike by teachers last year. “We are going to fight this to the end and go to appeal if we have to,” he said.

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