Jun 9, 2011
Suspended education officials paid millions to stay home
The cash-strapped Eastern Cape education department has paid more than R7-million in salaries to officials who are sitting at home after they were suspended, some of them at least a year ago.
On Tuesday, senior officials in the department - which has recently been taken over by the national Department of Education - were grilled by President Jacob Zuma over the appalling conditions at some schools in the province.
Yesterday, Eastern Cape education department spokesman Loyiso Pulumani confirmed that R7.3-million had been paid in salaries to 50 employees - ranging in rank from junior clerks to a deputy director-general - in the year to March 31.
The suspensions related to a raft of allegations, ranging from poor performance to misappropriation of funds.
The Times's sister publication, The Daily Dispatch, identified at least 12 senior officials who are on suspension - four of whom have not been charged since being shown the door five months ago.
Nkosinathi Godlo, a Queenstown district director, was suspended in January, but still receives his salary of R54000. 00
His three deputies - the directors of finance, human resources and procurement - were suspended with Godlo, but continue to draw their salaries of over R41000.00 a month.
Pulumani confirmed that the four have not yet been charged.
"The investigation of the Special Investigating Unit of the Queenstown district is still ongoing.
Our capacity to prefer charges against the officials will be predicated on the outcomes thereof," said Pulumani.
The department's deputy director-general of institutional operations management, Sithembele Zibi, was suspended in January on charges related to non-performance.
Zibi, who earns over R87000.00 a month, has also not been charged.
The case against him has been postponed three times, "due to the non-availability of representatives because of their clogged diaries", said Pulumani. He said the case would resume on July 1.
But some of the cases date back at least a year.
The chief director of vocational training, Khayalethu Ngaso, continues to receive his salary of R73000.00 following his suspension, along with seven other senior officials, in June last year.
Ngaso, as well as the director of further education and training colleges, Cwayita Zituta, internal audit director Mtunase Kali, deputy director of finance Sarel Baatjies, deputy-director of finance for Bizana, Noxolo Tokwana, and chief director of facilities and infrastructure Zamayedwa Tom were initially accused of misappropriating R34-million, along with other charges, including mismanaging money allocated to departments.
In November, the charges against Tom were dropped when a new department head was appointed.
Pulumani could comment only on the cases against Ngaso and his personal assistant,which he said were "still outstanding". He said that on two occasions, both cases were postponed because the employees were ill.
Premier Noxolo Kiviet said she was concerned that cases against suspended officials were dragging on for so long in all departments - at great cost to the government.
On Tuesday, Zuma and top education officials, including Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, visited schools in the province as part of a performance monitoring and evaluation exercise.
In Mdantsane, Zuma visited the two oldest schools - Vulumzi Primary and Mzomhle High School. At Vulumzi Primary staff and parents revealed that no renovations had been carried out on the school since its construction in 1963.
Zuma grilled the provincial education department's superintendent-general, Modidima Mannya: ''What I want to know from you is why the situation at this school has not been rectified."
Mannya said he was still new to the department, having only taken up the position six months ago.