Marchers slammed

2009-08-22 00:00

THE KZN Education Department has condemned the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) for marches staged during school time.

The department spoke out for the first time yesterday about accusations of financial mismanagement, corruption and improper tendering processes levelled against five department heads and the call by the union for their removal.

MEC Senzo Mchunu told reporters the department wants to express its “grave concern”, noting that “in conducting their marches during teaching and learning time, the right of the learners to learn has been violated”.

Mchunu said his department is not in a crisis and that superintendent-general Cassius Lubisi is not serving three months’ notice after resigning, as rumoured.

In the past few weeks, members of the union, including teachers, clerks and security personnel, have demonstrated several times at the department offices in Pietermaritzburg, always with the same call: “Cassius Lubisi is a failure. He must leave the department.”

The union says that Lubisi and his four top managers, as well as a district director, must all go.

Among the payments under scrutiny is one of more than R200 million allegedly made to Indiza, contracted to supply stationery in 2005, before it delivered the goods.

The union claims that more than R500 million has been paid to companies run by friends and cronies of the department heads; that R4,5 million was embezzled by Umlazi district director Mlungisi Ntombela; that R80 million for school transport in this district went to benefit his friends; and that R1,5 million went to the defunct Remnant Alton bus company monthly.

Mchunu called the allegations unsubstantiated, but said the department will institute a forensic investigation and hopes to appoint auditors by next Thursday.

Asked to comment on rumours that he is seen to be a friend of Sadtu, Mchunu said the allegations are unsubstantiated and unsound.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance has called on the government to break the “stranglehold” it says Sadtu has on public education.

Sapa quoted DA education spokeswoman Junita Kloppers-Lourens as saying the union constantly undermines any effort to improve performance.

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