Blade Nzimande wants answers from culture Seta

2014-04-20 06:00

Money has gone missing, contracts are unfulfilled and board members are at war – and now Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande is demanding answers.

Welcome to the Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Sector Education and Training Authority (Cathsseta).

Nzimande has written to the authority’s chairperson, Advocate Brenda Madumise, asking her and the board to respond to the contents of a damning internal report by audit firm Grant Thornton.

The report contains accusations of power abuse and nepotism directed at Cathsseta CEO Mike Tsotetsi. The minister commissioned the Grant Thornton investigation after receiving an anonymous email from employees at the Cathsseta.

In the letter to Madumise, dated April 16 – a copy of which City Press has seen – Nzimande wrote:

“I am also concerned about the relationships, in, particular, between the Cathsseta accounting authority and [Tsotetsi], the implication of which manifest through failure by the Cathsseta to address its performance targets and predetermined objectives.

“I note with concern ... a list of complaints were raised by concerned Cathsseta staff members regarding the state of affairs ... and to date those complaints have not been resolved.”

The anonymous letter, which prompted the investigation, alleged that:

» A former staff member’s children were flown to Italy on a school trip because it was claimed they were underprivileged, yet the employee is an accountant; and

» Two board members had their children’s university fees paid for by Cathsseta, and that the payment was signed off by Tsotetsi.

The audit team found that about R10 million linked to two contracts should be deemed as fruitless and wasteful expenditure because it could not be accounted for.

The Seta has been given 21 days to respond to Nzimande’s letter – but it got off to a shaky start this week when Tsotetsi wrote a letter to all staff and board members saying that Madumise had decided to take an “immediate” leave of absence.

By Thursday, though, Tsotetsi was forced by Nzimande’s department to revoke the letter and apologise to staff.

Three staff members told City Press that morale was “down” at Cathsseta, whose headquarters are in Sandton, Johannesburg.

“Very few projects can be undertaken because there is no cohesion between the parties that are supposed to sign off on projects, which are supposed to upskill the youth,” said one staffer.

Others said it was important for Nzimande’s department to intervene.

Tsotetsi said he was not in a position to respond to the allegations because the board was not readily available to provide answers.

The education department failed to respond to questions.

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