How Sadtu captured the state


A damning report into the jobs-for-cash scam run by officials from the department of basic education and teachers’ union Sadtu reveals that the union “is in de facto control” of all but three of the country’s provincial education departments.

The preliminary report by renowned academic and Umalusi head Professor John Volmink also reveals that a similar investigation by the SA Council of Educators (Sace), a statutory body for teachers, found that the entire union was involved in the scam – not just a few rogue elements, which Sadtu maintains.

In his report, Volmink, who was appointed to investigate the scam after a City Press investigation, says Sadtu covered up the Sace report because it implicates the entire union, as opposed to individual members, in the buying and selling of jobs.

Volmink also revealed that the Gauteng provincial education department conducted its own investigation last year with law firm Nchupetsang Attorneys, which found widespread selling of posts in the province.

A handful of teachers and officials testified before the investigators, including a principal who revealed that jobs were sold for between R30 000 and R45 000.

However, nothing came of the report as most of the witnesses refused to submit signed statements.

National basic education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said Volmink’s report was “very important to us”.

“If you don’t have a teacher or a principal who got a job on merit, it means we won’t be able to achieve what the nation wants out of us.

“The report will give us confidence to move boldly and change policies. We have a good curriculum, but if teachers and principals are not appointed in the right way, whatever we do is meaningless.

“The investigation is ground-breaking and, whatever we want, we will do on the back of this report,” he said.

Volmink’s report, a copy of which City Press has obtained, found that all deputy directors-general are Sadtu members. There were several other findings and some are outlined above on this page.


At a media briefing on Volmink’s report on Thursday, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said she would meet all nine MECs early next year and propose that all vacant principal positions be frozen to prevent more principals from being killed for their jobs and their posts being sold.

Two senior teachers who were frontrunners for the principal posts for which they had applied in KwaZulu-Natal were killed in the past four months. Pietermaritzburg acting principal Nokuthula Magwanyana was hacked to death in September and Eshowe deputy principal Thokozani Mkhwanazi was shot dead at school last month.

Motshekga said she would appoint a team of human resources practitioners to handle principal appointments while the department sought permanent solutions.

Therefore, there is a need for the state to undertake a complete overhaul, no matter how long it takes, of the entire system of schooling.

One permanent solution Volmink suggests is an overhaul of the entire department and the manner in which teachers, principals and officials are appointed.

“The task team has come to the conclusion that since 1994, the department has never had a chance to succeed,” reads the report.

“Therefore, there is a need for the state to undertake a complete overhaul, no matter how long it takes, of the entire system of schooling.”

Volmink recommends amending the SA Schools Act to remove the powers of school governing bodies to make recommendations in the appointments of heads of departments, principals and their deputies.

“The appointment process, from advertising to the interviewing of candidates and the appointment, will be conducted by the provincial education department.

“The governing body will not play any role in the appointment process other than an advisory role,” states the report.

Volmink’s other recommendations include that:

  • The department regains control of the management and administration of education in all provinces;
  • Teachers and office-based officials must be forbidden from being office bearers of political parties and principals and senior managers must be barred from occupying union leadership positions;
  • New unions must be formed for office-based officials;
  • Measures must be put in place to ensure that “cadre deployment” in the department and schools be stopped immediately;
  • Unions’ privileges to observe job interviews be reviewed;
  • Senior managers appointed to circuit, district and provincial offices be assessed regularly; and
  • Sace be overhauled and freed from union and political domination.

Sace chairperson Rej Brijraj said its report, which he would not release, found no wrongdoing against any teacher.

“We investigated 29 cases, but found nothing, just rumours. I have the report. We have two cases we are following at the moment. They will most probably lead to prosecutions next year. We will also prosecute all teachers fingered in the minister’s report,” he said.

Sadtu secretary Mugwena Maluleke said the union had not seen the Sace report.

“No one [from Sace] has called us to say that the report has been released and what the findings are. We called for the investigation, so how can people say we are stifling the report?” he asked.

How Sadtu captured provinces

The Volmink report provides a chilling account of how Sadtu captured six of the nine provincial departments, ranging from “the most senior levels to new teachers in public schools”.

“The effect of this is to contribute to the department’s inability to control and develop an effective educational system. The department has managerial and administrative control in three of South Africa’s nine provinces. In all other provinces, Sadtu is in de facto control.”

Volmink found that Sadtu had gained control by “using militancy to exert pressure on its members to be unionists first and professionals second”. It also used cadre deployment to ensure that a “high number of managers, decision makers and others with power and influence in education are placed in well-paid positions where they can serve and prioritise the union”.

“In North West, 85% of senior positions have been deployed by Sadtu. These individuals have been rewarded for service to the union with well-paid jobs in the department, whether there is a vacancy or not and whether the individual has appropriate skills and is qualified or not,” reads the report.

“This is not to imply that Sadtu people are not usually highly skilled individuals, but Sadtu appears to have saturated schools, staff, principals, school governing bodies, circuit and district offices, and the head office with people whose loyalties to their union are meant to supersede other considerations.”

Sadtu responds

Maluleke did not deny that Sadtu had taken control of the running of six provinces, but blamed weak leaders and managers for allowing this to happen.

“The department’s officials have to take control and not hide behind Sadtu. Where there is weak leadership, others will move in and take over. It is a matter of managers refusing to lead,” he said.

Maluleke said Sadtu had received a copy of Volmink’s report and was studying it.

He said the union supported the move to “clean the system”.

Other findings

Volmink makes other findings regarding the individual sales of posts.

The report states that a Dr Nhlanhla Sebele told investigators he had applied for several principal posts while he was still a teacher before he became a lecturer at Free State University.

He told investigators he was approached by Sadtu’s Soweto North branch secretary, Peace Mokiti, Wandile Siwani and a Mr Ramokhwatse, who asked him to pay them R25 000 to be guaranteed a post.

Mokiti is suing City Press for defamation regarding our exposé of his alleged involvement in the jobs-for-cash scandal.

The report reveals that a governing body member at Durban’s Kenville Primary School tried to solicit a R50 000 bribe from a teacher for a principal’s post. It also relates how a Sadtu member at Kokstad’s Seven Fountains Primary School arranged to have a teacher pay R30 000 for the school principal’s post.

What should be done to break Sadtu’s stranglehold on the country’s education system? SMS your thoughts to 35697 using the keyword SADTU. SMSes cost R1.50. Please include your name and province.

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