Teachers’ union Natu has called on President Jacob Zuma to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the jobs-for-cash scandal, claiming that the one appointed by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga did not have enough teeth.
Natu – the country’s third-largest teachers’ union, with just over 53 000 members – said that the ministerial task team’s report, compiled by renowned academic and Umalusi head Professor John Volmink, “did not even begin to scratch the surface of the iceberg”.
“Certainly, in our view, this report does not carry the comprehensiveness, depth and scope that we anticipated,” the union argued in its submission, contained in the finalised Volmink report that Motshekga released on Friday evening.
“We pointed out that the methods the team was using to investigate the very serious allegations of selling of posts were both grossly inadequate and ineffective,” said the union.
It added that a judicial commission of inquiry was the realistic way to investigate the selling of posts – and that public confidence in such a process would be high, compared with an ordinary ministerial task team.
It stated that the judicial commission would have powers that the department’s investigators did not have, including to “compel witnesses to testify while ensuring their protection from possible harassment or intimidation”.
Volmink concedes in his report that he was unable to compel witnesses to testify and, as a result, he was unable to comprehensively investigate the jobs-for-cash scam.
The scam came to light following a City Press exposé two years ago, which revealed that principals’ posts were being sold by teachers and officials affiliated to teachers’ union Sadtu for upward of R30 000, and that teaching jobs were being exchanged for cash, sex and livestock.
In its submission, Sadtu – which delayed the release of the report several times, on the grounds of wanting to make additional representations to Volmink’s team – laid into the findings and dismissed many of them as “irrational and biased”.
Sadtu argued that Volmink’s team had unfairly targeted it, strayed from its terms of reference and made defamatory statements against it without evidence to back up many of its conclusions.
It also took issue with Volmink’s findings that the SA Council for Educators should be freed from the union’s domination.
Sadtu’s bosses further argued that all unions were proportionally represented at the council.
It said it was not involved in the jobs-for-cash scam, nor did it support or condone it.
“It would, in the circumstances, be grossly unfair to attribute blame to Sadtu for the actions of individuals, whether they were ordinary members or officials of the union,” said Sadtu in its submission.
“Such actions are contrary to the position of the union and Sadtu has publicly condemned it.
“It is plain that the MTT [ministerial task team] chose to pursue a political agenda for an undisclosed and ulterior end.
“This is unlawful and should be rectified. The findings by the team once again are a demonstration of a Sadtu-targeted investigation, which was aimed at discrediting the union at all costs,” the union said.
While the country’s second-largest union, Naptosa, welcomed the report “as an honest attempt to address a vexing problem”, it accused Volmink’s team of “union-bashing”.
Naptosa proposed the outsourcing of the recruitment of teachers until a permanent solution to the selling of jobs was found.
Last week, City Press reported that the final document revealed that Sadtu’s membership of the tripartite alliance gave the union “enormous power and influence” over the education system.
The Volmink report also found that this “dangerous and inappropriate” situation placed the education system at the mercy of political processes.
Sadtu officials, revealed the report, had also captured six of the nine provincial education departments.