How Sadtu sells posts

2014-04-27 17:04
Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke. (Muntu Vilakazi, City Press)

Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke. (Muntu Vilakazi, City Press)

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Johannesburg - If you’ve got R30 000 or more to donate, the teachers’ union has the job you’re looking for, City Press reports.

A promotions-for-cash racket run by members of teachers’ union Sadtu has led to scores of illegal appointments across the country – and even a murder.

City Press can reveal that plum posts, including those of principal and deputy principal, are routinely sold for upwards of R30 000 each in KwaZulu-Natal.

There are now investigations into the existence of similar rackets in Limpopo and North West.

In at least two cases in KwaZulu-Natal, sitting principals were violently forced out of their posts and threatened with death.

They were then replaced with candidates who they claim paid off union officials to take their jobs.

One principal, who was too afraid for his name to be published, said: “When this thing started in the late 1990s, they were demanding around R11 000 for a promotion post. Now it starts at R30 000.”

The man with nearly 20 years’ experience who recently resigned, added: “It’s very prevalent. Sadtu is running the department here because it’s them who say who gets what posts.”

Dead whistle-blower

On Tuesday, Mfundi Sibiya (54) the KwaZulu-Natal education department’s Ugu (lower South Coast) district director, two principals and an ANC ward councillor were granted bail in the Umlazi Magistrates’ Court.

They were arrested for allegedly ordering the murder of Nyon’emhlophe Primary School principal Nkosinathi Zondi (46).

Zondi, the South Coast regional Sadtu chairperson, was shot five times, allegedly by hitmen Andile Zulu and Lungisani Makhoba, in his Umlazi home last May.

Sibiya – a former Sadtu provincial secretary and ANC parliamentary candidate – allegedly ordered Zondi’s murder after he blew the whistle on alleged corruption Sibiya was involved in, which allegedly included the selling of tenders and senior positions.

Sibiya was arrested earlier this month with his co-accused.

During their first court appearance last week, investigating officer Xolani Mlungwana told the court Sandile Mzizi, the chairperson of the school governing body at the Khathi High School in Mthwalume, had organised the hit for Sibiya.

Mzizi, who turned state witness, alleged the co-conspirators put together R12 000 for him to do so.

A high-ranking Sadtu member in the Port Shepstone area told City Press Sibiya allegedly controlled the allocation of posts for candidates who had paid for jobs, and that school governing bodies were manipulated into recommending their appointment to the department.

A senior education department official confirmed they were aware of this.

Not just the South Coast

A Durban principal, whose identity and school name is being withheld as he fears for his life, told City Press he was confronted at his school gate in 2010 by an armed man who told him he would be killed if he returned to work.

The principal, who retired last year, said he had been told by his fellow teachers his deputy “paid” for his job, which she wanted.

“I was leaving the school for a meeting at about 13:30. As I drove up to the gate, there was a well-dressed, very respectable guy standing there. He waved me down and asked if I was me.

“I said ‘yes’. He pulled out a gun and pointed it at my head. He told me to f**k off and not come back, and if I came back to work I would be killed. He said: ‘We don’t want to see you here. If you come back, we will kill you,’” the principal said.

“I’ve been in education for 24 years but I have to find another way to earn a living. I had to leave. It was obvious I was going to be killed if I stayed in the job,” he said.

“It’s an open secret in teaching that if you want a promotion post, you have to pay.”

Investigations ordered

Cosatu, general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told City Press on Friday he learnt of the racket more than a year ago. Sadtu is an affiliate of Cosatu.

“In November 2012 I wrote a letter to Sadtu secretary Mugwena Maluleke asking him to investigate allegations that senior Sadtu officials in KwaZulu-Natal were selling positions. But the investigation was not done,” said Vavi.

Maluleke confirmed that “comrade Vavi” alerted him to the allegations.

“The provincial executive committee investigated and submitted a report that cleared [the accused] of any wrongdoing. The allegations were part of a political campaign to destabilise the union in the province,” he said.

Also in 2012, members of the National Teachers’ Union (Natu) protested in Durban against Sadtu provincial secretary Mbuyiseni Mathonsi’s alleged sale of a director position in the provincial education department for R100 000.

Natu deputy president Alan Thompson said: “We marched in Durban and demanded that former premier Zweli Mkhize do something about it. He appointed retired Judge Vuka Tshabalala to probe the allegations. But I’m afraid the investigation never got off the ground.”

Thompson said his union was now preparing to approach Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate the matter.

Mathonsi did not respond to numerous calls and messages requesting comment since Thursday.

Muzi Mahlambi, the spokesperson for KwaZulu-Natal education MEC Peggy Nkonyeni, said: “Anybody who has any information of this or any other kind of wrongdoing should come forward with it and we will investigate.”

Limpopo developments

Meanwhile, the Limpopo education department said it has launched a preliminary investigation into allegations that principal, and circuit and district manager positions were being sold.

Department spokesperson Pitsi Maloba said: “We have heard those allegations and there is an informal investigation. What comes out of there will inform us if we should probe further.”

Maloba said the Sadtu chairman in the province, Ronald Moroatshehla, forwarded a list of six names to education MEC Dikeledi Magadzi demanding they be appointed to senior positions in circuit and district offices.

City Press is in possession of the list, which includes one of Moroatshehla’s relatives. But it is not known whether any money changed hands for those jobs.

Moroatshehla declined to comment this week.

Maloba said: “We know about that list, they want us to appoint their brothers. We are going to run a free and fair process.”

Magadzi, he said, would not be coerced “into doing wrong things” as those positions had not yet been filled.

“We are engaging the Sadtu leadership about this.”

Provincial Sadtu secretary Matome Raphasha said they were aware of the list but “we haven’t found time to investigate it yet”.

He distanced Sadtu from Moroatshehla’s list, saying it wasn’t sanctioned by the union.

And in North West...

In North West, the education department appointed Nexus forensic services two years ago to investigate allegations Sadtu had irregularly influenced the appointment of officials to senior positions in the department’s Bojanala district.

Provincial education spokesperson Brian Setswambung said the report found “Sadtu had influenced the appointment of senior officials”.

The department, he said, is now conducting disciplinary hearings against its officials who were involved in what Setswambung labelled a “jobs scam”.

He could not provide any further details.

The acting director-general of the national basic education department, Panyaza Lesufi, said he was unaware of any racket.

“Anyone with evidence that jobs are being sold, or that Sadtu was influencing recruitment processes, should approach the department,” he said, adding: “It is illegal and undesirable. We won’t tolerate it.”

But Lesufi said the department was proposing it should exclusively handle the recruitment of principals and their deputies instead of school governing bodies.

“What currently happens is that the governing bodies choose the principal and the deputy and then recommend to the department. We are saying the whole process should be done by the department. It will go a long way towards preventing such things.”

Fraudulent behaviour - how the scam works

- A teacher who wants to land a promotion identifies the position they want.

- Typically, this is a job that they know the incumbent will soon be leaving, either because they are retiring or because they are resigning from the department.

- That teacher then approaches a local Sadtu official who they know to be involved in selling positions for cash, and hands over a minimum of R30 000.

- The Sadtu official then meets with members of the school governing body and department officials to rig the process.

- If the post is filled, the school governing body is used to agitate against the incumbent if necessary to force them out of the post.

- The school governing body then recommends the teacher who paid for that job to the selection panel.

- The selection panel, which contains paid-off officials from the department, then ratifies the governing body’s recommendation;

- The teacher gets the job.

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