Union threatens to go to court to demand its right to make submissions as minister delays release of findings for a further two weeks
Teachers’ union Sadtu is threatening to haul the department of basic education to court over its report into the union’s jobs-for-cash scam.
The report, which was first supposed to have been released in February, was due for release on Friday by Minister Angie Motshekga.
The release was delayed yet again, for a further two weeks, the department said in a statement on Friday.
However, Sadtu has threatened to take the department to court if it does not allow it to make submissions to the report’s author, Professor John Volmink, who headed the ministerial task team investigating the scandal.
Sadtu secretary Mugwena Maluleke told City Press on Friday: “We are not going to interdict the minister from releasing the report. We also want it to be released. After all, it is us who called for the investigation into the jobs-for-cash scandal. But we will go to court to enforce our rights. We will go to court to force the task team to allow us to make representations to it, it is our right.”
The scandal was exposed by a City Press investigation two years ago, which revealed that principals’ positions were being sold for upwards of R30 000. Teachers’ posts were also being sold for livestock and cash amounts of as little as R6 000.
A draft report, the findings of which City Press published in December, found Sadtu was in “de facto” control of six provincial education departments. Volmink also found Sadtu had gained control by “using militancy to exert pressure on its members to be unionists first and professionals second”. The report also found the wide-scale selling of posts.
City Press understands the representations the union
wants to make to the panel includes a claim that Volmink’s team “thumb-sucked its findings and has no facts to back them up”.
A source close to the union’s legal team said the union would also argue that Volmink’s team “strayed away from their terms of reference, used the wrong methodology in their investigation, and wrongfully and unfairly targets the organisation”.
The union commissioned its own lawyers to produce a 90-page report and legal opinion, which rubbishes Volmink’s findings.
“Chances are that this thing is going to become very messy,” said the source close to Sadtu’s legal team.
“After 14 days, it will be postponed again, I can guarantee you. Do you think that Angie [Motshekga] will release a report that says the ANC is corrupt, in this current environment, and survive in her job?”
Maluleke confirmed the union sought legal opinion on the preliminary report. “We found that the methodology was flawed. The findings were not based on facts, but on innuendos, opinion and suggestions. The report also dabbled into the relationship between us, Cosatu, the ANC and the SA Communist Party. The fact is that the task team has made serious flaws. They have also made unfounded allegations.”
Maluleke said Volmink was dragging his feet in honouring Motshekga’s directive that all teachers’ unions should be allowed to comment and make representations on the report.
A senior official at the department of basic education, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Sadtu “insists they want to meet Volmink’s team, but we don’t know what they want to say”.
“But the report will not change; it will stay the same.”
The official said there was a big battle brewing within the department and senior officials believed Sadtu would push for the report’s release to be stalled indefinitely.
“Remember, there are political implications. Any negative information ahead of the elections is not good for the ruling party and its allies,” the official said.
The report was handed to Cabinet three weeks ago.
“We suspect they lobbied some members of Cabinet to ensure the report doesn’t come out.”
In a statement on Friday, department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said Motshekga met all unions this week and they asked for more time to “refine their inputs and responses to the report”.
“Stakeholders’ responses and inputs will be considered by the task team and before the final report is published,” he said.
Nombulelo Nyathela of NGO Equal Education slammed the delays, saying they hoped the department was not “sanitising” the report.
“What is it that is taking so long? The public has waited long enough and we all know there is cronyism and widespread corruption in the appointment of teachers.”