‘Schools D-G must be fired’

2013-01-02 00:00

TEACHERS’ union Sadtu has vowed to force the director-general of Basic Education, Bobby Soobrayan, out of his post this year.

In a New Year statement, the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union made serious accusations against Soobrayan, alleging corruption, unprofessional conduct and maladministration.

On inquiry, minister Angie Motshekga’s spokesperson said she had taken note of Sadtu’s concerns, but preferred to discuss them behind closed doors with the union, rather than in the media.

Sadtu promised labour action if Soobrayan was not fired.

The union noted that a presidential task team under Professor Mary Metcalfe that was investigating the Limpopo textbook crisis had asked the public service commission to probe aspects of Soobrayan’s conduct.

These were his alleged failure to act when problems with textbook delivery were first noted in November 2011, and the allegation that he did not offer needed support to the intervention team that took over the Limpopo Education Department in 2011.

Sadtu said Motshekga had refused to activate an investigation into Soobrayan.

The union has repeatedly called for a forensic audit into Lebone Group Holdings, a company of which Salama Hendricks was a founder member. Her daughter was once engaged to Soobrayan, the union alleged.

Lebone won a R243 million tender to print, pack and deliver workbooks to the Limpopo Education Department.

The courts had to intervene in this process because it was so poorly executed.

Sadtu said Soobrayan was implicated in a conflict of interest and corruption. It also alleged that Lebone was awarded another tender to supply textbooks to Limpopo this year.

Another of Sadtu’s allegations concerned the payment of matric markers.

According to the union, on April 7, 2011, Soobrayan, on behalf of the department, signed an agreement with education unions for a 100% pay increase for markers.

After Soobrayan later questioned this increase, it was confirmed in a written agreement by the education bargaining council on December 18, 2011.

On May 11, 2012, the department declared a dispute over the issue, because Soobrayan had reportedly signed the agreement in error without reading it, and because he in any event did not have the required mandate from the ministers of Finance and Basic Education to undertake to pay the increase.

The hearings on the issue have dragged on since then, with the department being granted numerous postponements.

Sadtu has insisted that Soobrayan, whom it also accuses of misappriopriation of departmental money for personal use, must resign, because it regards him as dishonest and unfit for his post. It has vowed to take labour action if that does not happen.

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