Parliament rubbishes claims senior staff snaffled plum bursaries

2017-02-19 14:40


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Johannesburg - Parliament has dismissed media reports that senior officials awarded themselves study bursaries over junior staff applicants.

Responding to an article in the Sunday Times, parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo, in statement, dismissed the claims as "baseless rumours".

The Sunday Times reported that Gengezi Mgidlana, the secretary to Parliament had awarded himself a bursary to study for a master's degree after turning down 50 junior staffers' applications, claiming the legislature had run out of funds.

The paper also reported that Unathi Mtya, Parliament's new head of information technology, was granted a R1.1m bursary to study at Columbia University in New York for a postgraduate qualification.

‘Preference given to new applicants’

Mothapo said in 2016 Parliament invited staff members to apply for bursaries to study for this year through its allocated bursary budget of R1.5m.

"This has been the case annually. Out of a total of 155 funding requests received totalling R5.6m, which far exceeded the available R1.5m bursary budget, only 50 applications could be approved.

"While Parliament would have liked to assist each and every applicant, the reality is that no budget is bottomless. 

"To ensure fairness and equal opportunity for all staff members, preference was given to new applicants who have not previously benefited from the bursary fund and meet basic requirements. The requirements include the applicability/relevance of chosen courses to areas of responsibility and proof of admission by academic institutions," he said.

Mothapo said an "outrageously false claim" has been made that Mtya would be sent to Columbia University at a cost of R1.1m.

"When Ms Mtya was employed by Parliament in 2016 following a lengthy search for a suitably qualified person to fill the CIO position, she had already been accepted at the said university and her studies were to be sponsored under her previous employer’s employee bursary fund." 

"Since Parliament has similar scheme for its employees, one of the mutually agreed terms and conditions pertaining to her employment was that she would, like any employee of Parliament, benefit from the institution’s bursary fund.

"This sought to ensure that her plans to further her studies were not unduly prejudiced by her joining Parliament."

Bursary criteria ‘fair, transparent, non-discriminatory’

He said Parliament will only contribute an amount equivalent to the cost of a similar course locally, which is just over R200 000.
Mopthapo said the criteria for allocating bursaries to staff are fair, transparent and non-discriminatory. 

“In this regard, claims made to the contrary are based on nothing but malicious rumour intended to tarnish the standing of Parliament and those who lead it."

Read more on:    parliament 2017

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