It appears that post-fixing in the Eastern Cape education department has reached epic proportions, with more than 2 400 staff appointed despite not being qualified for their posts.
And more than 2 800 vacant promotion posts in its various districts and at head office cannot be filled.
DA education spokesperson Edmund van Vuuren, who was conducting oversight visits to schools in Queenstown and other districts last week, said a recent audit of appointments the department had made since 2000 revealed that it was impossible to fill 2 800 vacancies, and 2 400 people had been appointed who were not properly qualified.
The inappropriate appointments were preventing posts from being filled by qualified candidates and had sparked a flurry of appeals from skilled teachers who were bypassed in favour of preselected applicants.
“The appointments have not been based on the skills required for the posts, but rather on affiliation to a teachers’ union and other criteria,” Van Vuuren said, adding that he had met with Premier Phumulo Masualle this week to discuss the problem.
Last week, City Press exposed a jobs-for-pals racket in the department’s Queenstown district, where teacher Gaynor Rittles went to the labour court to challenge the appointment of the principal at St Theresa’s Primary School.
In court papers, she and veteran SA Democratic Teacher’s Union (Sadtu) member Lindiwe Doko alleged that the appointment was rigged in favour of the successful applicant and that Sadtu leaders had backed it.
Doko has also lodged a challenge in the labour court against the appointment of senior education specialists in the Queenstown district.
Education officials told City Press that, in the wake of the report, several other contested appointments at St Theresa’s were set aside by the department. Applicants in several other districts have also come forward with complaints that applications for promotion, particularly at principal level, were being predetermined by school governing body and union panellists in favour of candidates with fewer skills.
In a letter of complaint to education department acting superintendent-general Ray Tywakadi last week, principal candidate Patriot Mazimela, who has 20 years of teaching experience, claimed the appointment of the new principal at Mazizini Secondary School in Dutywa was rigged.
In a letter of dispute that City Press has seen, Mazimela said the job was given to an underqualified candidate. The interviewing panel, he claimed, did not focus on the core skills needed for the job and the “processes and procedures were flouted”.
Eastern Cape education spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani said Van Vuuren’s figures were “inflated” and the total number of underskilled staff was closer to 240.
Pulumani said the Eastern Cape had experienced an “anomaly” over its placements because of an agreement with Sadtu that prevented teachers from being transferred from schools where they were not needed to understaffed institutions. However, the impasse was resolved last year.
“Legislatively, the MEC is meant to make an announcement at the end of September after an annual exercise in which the province’s skills basket for the following year is determined after consultation with the teachers’ unions. That is taking place as we speak and is a lengthy exercise. The MEC will then make the announcement about the package of skills for 2016,” he said.