FUNDING FEARS AS TEMPORARY TEACHERS ASKED TO RE-APPLY: THE HERALD

TEMPORARY teachers whose contracts were terminated by the Eastern Cape Education Department have been invited to re-apply for their positions.

But opposition parties have questioned the availability of funds in the department.

DA MPL Edmund van Vuuren said yesterday it was still unclear where the department would find the R800-million needed to finance the 4 000 posts.

On Monday, Education MEC Mandla Makupula signed a memo stating that temporary teachers whose contracts were terminated in December last year would be reinstated into vacant positions at schools.

In the memo, Makupula said temporary teachers would be re-employed in accordance with the earlier judgment handed down by Bhisho High Court Judge Belinda Hartle.

In October, Hartle ordered the department to re-employ temporary teachers. However this was ignored by education superintendent-general Modidima Mannya, who instead terminated their contracts.

In the memo, Makupula said labour relations processes and “work already made by the department” would be taken into account when making appointments.

School principals were instructed to submit their forms of appointment to their nearest district offices yesterday, while districts were expected to forward the applications to the head office in Zwelitsha by tomorrow.

The department had reverted to Hartle’s judgment after a deal was brokered by Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi with Makupula and the provincial government led by premier Noxolo Kiviet.

This followed weeks of goslows at schools by teachers affiliated to the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu), who were calling for the reinstatement of their colleagues and wanted Mannya fired.

Van Vuuren said: “The department’s budget is already overheating and they are overspending. There is no plan on how this is going to be effected.”

He said Kiviet had caved in on the demands of the unions without considering a number of issues.

“This is going to cause a lot of confusion and crises at schools. It’s been reported already that some temporary teachers employed by school governing bodies were returning to their previous schools where they worked before their contracts were terminated. It is going to be chaotic.”

COPE provincial spokesman Nkosifikile Gqomo said the department’s finances were in a shambles.

“They continue to get poor audit outcomes, which clearly shows lack of leadership.

“We are concerned about these appointments and we are going to ask them where they are going to find funding for these posts.”

Gqomo said the deal struck by the unions with the provincial government was “interference of the highest order” in government business.

Eastern Cape education portfolio committee chairman Mzoleli Mrara said he was “in the dark” about Makupula’s memo.

He hoped Kiviet had considered the financial implications of the deal.

“I don’t want to pre-empt and undermine their discussion, but I hope the premier was sensitive when taking that decision,” Mrara said.

Kiviet’s spokesman Mahlubandile Qwase could not be reached. Education spokesman Loyiso Pulumani did not respond to questions sent.