Public Protector probes teachers

2017-02-12 06:01


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Johannesburg - The Public Protector has launched an investigation into South Africa’s professional body for teachers following allegations of financial mismanagement and nepotism.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has begun an investigation into the SA Council for Educators (Sace), due to allegations that unqualified officials were appointed to positions that were not advertised.

Two months ago, Mkhwebane’s investigators sent a list of 20 questions to Sace chairperson Veronica Hofmeester – who is also the vice-president of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) – asking for answers and documents.

The official correspondence, dated December 13, a copy of which City Press has obtained, reveals allegations that:

The chief financial officer appointed himself without having the relevant qualifications.

- The financial manager position was created without the position being advertised.

- A Sadtu member was appointed as chief operating officer without the appropriate qualifications.

- Another Sadtu member was appointed to the communications manager position without being appropriately qualified.

- A relative of Hofmeester was appointed as a co-ordination manager on a contract basis with a “fat” salary.

- A performance bonus was paid to the chief financial officer, the then CEO and other senior managers between 2006 and 2010 without their performance being assessed.

- A human resources manager was appointed without the necessary qualifications.

- The chief financial officer’s personal assistant’s sister was appointed without being interviewed and later landed a job as a registration officer.

Some documents

Long-standing Sace CEO Rej Brijraj retired last month and has been replaced by Ella Mokgalane, who will act in the position until a replacement is appointed.

The Public Protector’s spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, confirmed the investigation, saying it was still “in its early stages” and was focused on the alleged conduct of Brijraj and Sace.

Segalwe said responses for some of the questions had been received and some documents that were requested had been handed over.

When asked about the allegations, Brijraj pointed a finger at Sace staff, saying the allegations could have been peddled by a “small group of unionists” while he was still CEO.

“It could be that small group of angry staff has been going all over the place to make malicious and defamatory allegations,” Brijraj said.

“We have rebellious staff – not a significant group – that has been finding fault with the council and wants to gain leverage so that the council accedes to their demands.”

Brijraj said the group had raised some of the issues with him since 2006 and those had been dealt with.

“I don’t know what benefit they will get if they succeed in collapsing the council. The council has always dealt with matters raised,” he said.

Brijraj said Sadtu had influence as the majority teacher’s union in the council.

“If the dominant teacher union is not going to have a say in council, who is going to have it? Sadtu has influence. We live in a majoritarian democracy. I’m from Sadtu. You have to have a history in teaching matters,” he said.

“Many of our employees come from Sadtu and other sources as well. This is just a double agenda to discredit the council and Sadtu.”

Brijraj said Sadtu deployees made mistakes, but those should not be linked to the organisation.

“They don’t purposefully do wrong. This is just that people have an axe to grind and are targeting Sadtu,” he said.

Sace spokesperson Thembinkosi Ndhlovu said: “Sace is not aware of any investigation so far, however, Sace has received an enquiry from the Public Protector about senior appointments.

“The Public Protector requested copies of adverts and qualifications of incumbents, and those have been provided. Sace is cooperating fully,” Ndhlovu said.

By the time of going to print, Hofmeester had not responded to questions sent on Thursday.

Read more on:    public protector  |  sadtu  |  johannesburg  |  education

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