The Ministerial Task Team Report Falls Short of Credibility: A Wild Goose Chase of Extraordinary Proportions

26 March 2016

The South African Democratic Teachers Union wants to highlight major concerns with the soon to be released Ministerial Task Team report on the so the called "jobs for cash" scandal. The Union has made some observations from the leaked interim report itself and the process leading to its finalisation which has brought us to the conclusion that it lacks credibility and cannot thus be an accurate reflection of the situation on the ground.

The leaked interim report proves that from the onset, the MTT`s aim was to target SADTU and its members in order to cover the weaknesses of the education system. SADTU has always remained committed to the maintenance of cohesion and functionality in the education system and our members have produced quality results with minimal resources at their disposal. Our members work in horrible conditions where there is no sanitation and other basic needs but they persevere because they care for their people and the country.

One of our major concerns is that the interim MTT report was leaked to the media and other parties before the affected parties were provided with a copy of the report. Following the leakage of the interim report, the Minister held a press conference making known the findings of the MTT. At that stage SADTU had not been afforded the courtesy of seeing the report or making comments thereon, despite the report being held out as an interim report.

As an organisation we have since obtained a copy of the leaked interim report and approached the MTT expressing our concerns on a number of the aspects and findings made in the report. The MTT in its wisdom has elected not to respond to any of the specific issues raised by SADTU and to provide where requested supporting evidence of its findings and conclusions. SADTU has written numerous letters to Prof. Volmink requesting him and his team to clarify a number of aspects and findings made in the report. To this end, we have not received any positive response.

We want to highlight that despite the excitement of the Democratic Alliance which has publicly declared its hatred for SADTU and clearly wants to "capture" the governing of this country through political blackmail, the MTT has not made any specific findings relative to its terms of reference that SADTU or any specific official was involved in the irregular appointments. Despite this the MTT simply makes generalised statements and clearly expresses its negative view of SADTU. In a previous statement on the same matter, we have characterised this as "a report based on suggestions and innuendoes", this view has now been strengthened by the release of the final report.

The Union raised a number of areas of concern on detailed correspondence to Prof. Volmink on the basis of the interim report. These include the following:

1. A pointed allegation is made of the generally corrupt nature of the ANC, COSATU and the SACP, the MTT found this to be the central problem in education and there is a specific allegation contained in the report that SADTU benefited as a result of this generally corrupt nature of these alliance partners. We requested the MTT to provide proper evidence to justify this conclusion. The MTT states in its interim report that: "As a member of COSATU, and thus a member of the Tripartite Alliance, SADTU has achieved access through the ANC and the Communist Party to positions in Parliament and Cabinet. Leaders of SADTU thus have their eyes firmly upward." We found this to be a blatant attack on our former leaders serving in government.
2. The MTT has made bold accusations that union members use the patronage system to secure elevation to senior posts in government and parliament, thus casting aspersions on former leaders of SADTU and other unions some of whom serve as Cabinet Ministers. The MTT was requested to provide supporting evidence of this and/or withdraw these unfounded allegations. The MTT has refused to do so.
3. Of the 81 cases investigated by the MTT only 38 were found to be worthy of further investigation. Of the 81 cases investigated the name of SADTU is associated or mentioned in respect of 22 cases. Of the 22 cases where SADTU is associated or mentioned, no further action is recommended in respect of 12 and further action is recommended in respect of 7.Thus of the total 81 cases further action was recommended in respect of 7 cases involving SADTU members.
4. In all instances of cases investigated by the MTT involving SADTU members, all these people were described in their capacity as SADTU members whereas in other cases, the persons implicated were not described in relation to their unions. SADTU has pointed this out to the MTT as this constitutes profiling and serves as a basis for discrimination. The MTT was requested to explain this phenomenon and has failed to do so. This on its own explains the hostility of the MTT towards SADTU and its members.
5. SADTU has also expressed its grave concern to the MTT regarding persons who made allegations where the MTT found no evidence to support the allegations. In our view the MTT ought to have investigated whether such persons did not abuse its processes or make false accusations to advance their personal interests. In our view this is important both to ensure that other persons are not violated and their credibility questioned owing to spurious allegations. In our view, action ought to be taken against those who clearly made these false allegations. Despite SADTU`s request to the MTT to clarify how it intends to deal with this, the MTT has elected not to respond.
6. The MTT has made specific bold allegations that Member of the Executive Council of the Gauteng Province has stated to it that "the major union is in charge of education" in his province. It also states that the Free State MEC "regards teacher unions as a major problem because they lack discipline".
7. The MTT also appears to have interviewed the various Heads of Departments. The Gauteng HoD is reported as stating that `SADTU is the elephant in the room", the HoD for North West who is reported to have stated that SADTU controls appointments at schools and the Department and the HoD for Mpumalanga is reported as stating that in her province SADTU holds marches to have officials removed from office.
8. It appears from the report of the MTT that this is the basis on which the MTT concluded and the Minister announced that SADTU controls six education departments. SADTU has upon studying the report, requested the MTT to provide it with objective facts and evidence and afford SADTU an opportunity to respond to these allegations. The MTT has refused to do so.
9. The MTT has also made a very specific finding that in North West, 85% senior positions have been deployed there by SADTU. SADTU has requested the MTT to provide evidence and details of these deployments to no avail.
10. The MTT has reported various allegations made by other teacher unions against SADTU. Although the allegations are of a generalised nature and no specifics are provided, SADTU requested the MTT to provide the details of the allegations and afford SADTU an opportunity to respond thereto. The MTT has refused to do so.
11. The MTT in its interim report questions the current structure of industrial unions and seeks to decide for members which unions they should belong to. SADTU has requested the MTT to clarify the basis of its conclusions in this regard relative to the constitutionally guaranteed rights of members to belong to a union of their choice. The MTT has refused to so.

We went further and requested the MTT to explain its methodology in conducting the investigation. This was important to understand how the MTT arrived at the conclusion it has. This is also important because of the thousands of educators within the system only 81 cases where investigated. SADTU cannot associate itself with a position that seeks to brand all teachers as appointed irregularly in the absence of empirical evidence. The MTT has refused to clarify its methodology in this regard.

The issues raised above are but examples of the many flaws in the report of the MTT. SADTU had hoped that it would secure the cooperation of the MTT to address these concerns to no avail. All letters written to the MTT were met with excuses for not responding to any one or more of the concerns raised.

It is in this context that we can only reach one inescapable conclusion, that the MTT and its chairperson are proxies for an anti worker and anti union project. It is also clear that the process of the MTT was not about investigating irregularities in appointments but to discredit SADTU, the ANC, the SACP and COSATU.Instead of retaining impartiality in investigating irregular appointments in the education system, the MTT entered the political arena by making findings of corruption by the ANC, SACP and COSATU. The MTT demonstrated its political agenda through selective leaking of information to the media. This selective leaking of the information sought to influence the public opinion for specific political ends. It should therefore come as no surprise that this is the reason the interim report was leaked and the DA which appear to have inside information is so excited. We take serious exception to the approach adopted by the Minister which is consistent with the attitude of the MTT by releasing the final report before addressing our specific concerns that we have sent to the MTT on three occasions.

We will thus demand to be provided with a copy of the report to study it on our own and consider our options. We therefore reject any proposition of having being taken through the report as suggested by the Minister.

We will also consider our options including possible legal action to access the report should the Minister refuse as the MTT has done to provide a copy of the report. SADTU and its members have a right to be heard before any conclusions are made and to respond to any allegations against it. We are considering our options with regards to our members who have been falsely accused and whose names have been dragged through the mud as a result of the ineptitude of the MTT and the premature announcements made by the Minister through the leaked interim report succumbing to the pressure by the DA.

We want to make it clear to the DA and its proxies in the MTT that our right to support the ANC cannot be reversed by the MTT and the DA through its anti-corruption rhetoric which is aimed at regime change. We will defend our democracy against the capture by the DA and its proxies within the MTT.

SADTU Secretariat