Newsletter 46 Jobs for Cash
THE SAGA CONTINUES AS THE FINAL REPORT IS AWAITED!
The City Press is the likes of a dog-to-a-bone. It will not let go with headlines like "Jobs-for-cash scam: Money, murder and maths", “How Sadtu captured the state” by Sipho Masondo, “Sadtu fights jobs-for-cash report” by Sipho Masondo and “Break Sadtu’s power” Sipho Masondo
Recent reports by the City Press is damning. The City Press claims it has seen a copy of the final report. Here are some of key aspects reported by the newspaper;
Thokozani Mkhwanazi was gunned down at his high school on November 11 after he became the frontrunner for the position of headmaster at a nearby primary school. The popular maths and science teacher, and deputy principal of Nomyaca Secondary School in Eshowe, was shot by two hit men in the school parking lot in front of his pupils and colleagues.
Mkhwanazi, who was buried last weekend, is the latest victim of the jobs-for-cash scam exposed by City Press last year. The scam has become increasingly deadly, with two teachers killed since August in hits ordered by others who want their jobs.
- 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”.
- 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.”
- In damning findings, final report reveals ‘jobs-for-cash’ is endemic and claims the union is holding the education system hostage
- Teachers’ union Sadtu’s membership of the tripartite alliance gives it “enormous power and influence” over the education system. So says the long-awaited final report by renowned academic and Umalusi head Professor John Volmink into the jobs-for-cash scandal.
- Describing this situation as “dangerous and inappropriate”, the report has found that this is holding the education system hostage to political processes.
- It also makes a slew of recommendations about how the education system can be freed from Sadtu’s grip, including a ban on principals and education officials being office bearers in political parties.
- The report contains a first-time admission by Sadtu that the sale of teachers’ and principals’ jobs for cash, sex and “other favours” is “widespread and underreported”.
- The report contains another shock admission by Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi that his department was under the “control” of Sadtu, and the buying and selling of teaching and office jobs in his province was “endemic”.
- Volmink’s team, appointed by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga two years ago to investigate the scandal following a City Press exposé, was damning about Sadtu’s hold on power, saying that it was a recipe for corruption.
- It condemned the practice of cadre deployment, arguing that through it, the union was able to ramify its position and influence, as well as reward chosen individuals by locating them in offices and schools to the benefit of the recipient and the advantage of the union.
- “Its presence is indicative of enormous power and influence by a union that seeks to entrench itself repeatedly and inexorably,” the report found.
- “As a form of undue influence or corruption, it opens doors for the use of unorthodox and illegal means to gain advantage. The buying and selling of positions is one such means.
- “The logical conclusion … is that undue influence, a polite name for corruption, appears to be endemic to greater and lesser degrees in the entire educational system, in offices, in schools, unions and everywhere else.“Weak authorities, aggressive unions, compliant principals and teachers eager to benefit from union membership and advancement are a combination of factors that defeat the achievement of quality education by attacking the values of professionalism.”
- With more than 260 000 members, Sadtu is labour federation Cosatu’s largest and most influential union.
- It has been a grooming ground for ANC leaders who have gone on to become ministers, MECs and senior government officials. Many of its members are active ANC branch leaders, and the union provides foot soldiers in election campaigns.
- Referring to Sadtu’s political connections, the report also found that, as a member of Cosatu and the tripartite alliance, Sadtu has achieved access through the ANC and the SA Communist Party to positions in Parliament and Cabinet.
- “The commitment of a teacher union to one single political party is dangerous and inappropriate,” the report found.
- “This means that those educators who join the union are bound to that party. And the fortunes of the education system become dependent on the fortunes of a political process.
- “While the party is in power, the union has a kind of political sanctity. To challenge the union is to challenge the party. It is not difficult to see how that can lead to corrupt forms of influence.”
- Shortly after City Press’ initial exposé, Lesufi appointed law firm Nchupetsang Attorneys to investigate if teaching jobs were sold in Gauteng. The company found that “the allegations of posts being sold for cash are true”.
- It also found that those involved operated in rackets including school governing body members, union officials and principals.
- Nchupetsang recommended disciplinary action against implicated officials, but this went nowhere because witnesses refused to sign written statements, and the process was abandoned.
- Culture of fear
- Volmink’s investigators encountered the same problems. The report found that a “pervasive culture of fear” and “concerns about safety” negatively influenced the cooperation of potential witnesses, many of whom were reluctant or unwilling to depose affidavits or work with investigators.
- As a result, fewer than five cases could be referred to the police for further investigation and charges.
- The report reveals that Gauteng is not alone. Volmink’s team found that Sadtu had captured five other provinces and was in “de facto” control.
- “The task team has found that in six, and possibly more, of the nine provinces, Sadtu is in de facto charge of the management, administration and priorities of education there.
- “It should not be a union’s function to be both referee and player,” the report found.
- The other five provinces are: KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape.
- In North West, the report found that more than 85% of senior staff in the department were deployed by Sadtu after serving as union office bearers.
- “Here is an example of Sadtu functioning as a conveyor belt for educators to be rewarded with well paid government jobs in administration and elsewhere, including the Cabinet,” the report found, referring to former Sadtu general secretary Thulas Nxesi, who is the minister of public works.
- “According to the [North West] head of department [Dr Itumeleng Molale], Sadtu determines well ahead of time which candidates for appointment at office and school level are preferred, and uses its influence in many ways to increase its grip on educational processes in this province.
- “Molale said that every three years, when Sadtu holds its elections, those who lose their positions are redeployed to senior positions in the department, irrespective of whether they are qualified or not, or whether there is a vacancy or not.”
- To stop the selling of principals’ posts, both Gauteng and North West have since banned school governing bodies, as well as circuit and district offices, from employing principals, making those appointments at their head offices.
- In Mpumalanga, provincial education department head Mahlasedi Mhlabane told investigators that “in this province, Sadtu holds marches to have officials removed from office”.
- In Limpopo, senior managers told investigators that they were aware of a list of the names of six Sadtu members whom the union demanded the department appoint to teaching and office-based positions.
- All teacher unions said they knew that posts were being sold.
- The team has now recommended sweeping changes to how teachers are appointed. These include the exclusion of school governing bodies from interview panels hiring mid-career teachers and all other senior positions.
- It has also recommended that prospective principals take aptitude tests before sitting for interviews, and that highly experienced teachers should be part of the panels interviewing them.
Other recommendations include:
- That no junior teacher be promoted to become a principal, which is currently happening;
- That principals and office-based officials be banned from occupying leadership positions in unions and from being office bearers of political parties;
- A ban on cadre deployment in the education department;
- That strict conditions be set for union observers during interviews; and
- That the teachers’ professional regulation body, the SA Council of Educators, be “reconceptualised” and freed from union domination.