Sadtu marches are merely ‘political jockeying’, says rival union

2009-08-27 00:00

THE recent marches by the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union in its efforts to remove the top Education management in KwaZulu-Natal, including superintendent-general Cassius Lubisi, have been described as nothing more than “political jockeying” for key positions and an attempt to seize control of education in the province.

The National Teachers’ Union (Natu) said in a statement yesterday that Sadtu’s behaviour threatens to lead education in KZN along the same path as that of the Eastern Cape.

In recent weeks, Sadtu has staged a number of protests demanding that Lubisi and his five top managers go, citing high matric failure rates, corruption and mismanagement among their list of grievances.

However, Natu believes the high rate of ailure in schools is being used as a smokescreen to achieve personal ambitions at the expense of teaching and learning.

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

DA education spokeswoman Junita Kloppers-Lourens said the protest approach adopted by the unions creates a “poiso­nous ethos”, and called for the government to hold the union responsible for the financial consequences of its “damaging protests”.

Tensions have even been felt within Sadtu ranks. In a letter signed by those who describe themselves as concerned long-standing members and distributed among Sadtu members, the union’s conduct is described as “counter revolutionary”.

The letter said Sadtu provincial secretary Mbuyiseni Mathonsi is being “handled” by aggrieved department officials with ambitions to progress in the department, and the current programme of action is meant to weaken the administration of the current lea­dership.

As a result, some schools are being regularly shut as early as noon for Sadtu meetings, the letter said, and Mathonsi is bypassing Sadtu constitutional structures, operating outside labour laws and not engaging the provincial general council.

Natu said Lubisi is a widely respected as an educationist and leader beyond the borders of KZN. “He is one of the best superintendent-generals ever to preside over the department of Education in KwaZulu-Natal. Natu supports all his efforts and those of his team to improve education in the province.”

They said attacks on Umlazi district manager Mlungisi Ntombela are also uncalled for as he presides over one of the best performing township districts.

The department is today expected to appoint auditors, a process that started on Monday. MEC Senzo Mchunu said the initial stage of the investigation will be the collection of written submissions from employees who have made the allegations and are willing to bring evidence before the auditors.

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