The MTT report - a deliberate trial through the court of public opinion

15 May 2016

SADTU has noted that once again the Minesterial Task Team on the "cash for jobs scandal" has been leaked to the media even before the process has been completed. This is despite the fact that the Unions and other stakeholders were given a coded report for tracking purposes and it was made clear that it was not meant for public consumption until all the procedural steps had been undertaken.

We are thus calling upon the Minister to explain how and who leaked this report. She must hang her head in shame for misleading not only SADTU but all the other unions in the education sector when she undertook to delay the release of the report by two weeks in order to accommodate inputs from the union and yet, the report in now screaming headlines in the media.

It is extremely disappointing to note the leaking the report has adversely affected its credibility.

However, we are not at all surprised by the leak of report. The journalist to whom the report was leaked is the same one who was told by a senior official of the Department of Basic Education that the final report will not change. It is the same journalist who had unlimited access to the MTT investigation throughout the entire investigation and was the first to receive the interim report. It is significant that no other newspaper has had the benefit of these leaks other than the City Press Newspaper.

These media leakages has confirmed beyond reasonable doubt that this investigation was nothing but an exercise to tarnish the image of the Union, the Tripartite Alliance, the ruling party and black leaders.

They are not in the best interest of education and them must be seen for what they truly are, an act of sabotage to the country`s progress by the MTT and elements within the 4th Estate that have now made this their full time occupation.

They also explain the levels of desperation by the Minister and the MTT to try SADTU and its members through the media. When we pointed out the flaws in the report and demanded to be given an opportunity to make representations, we were accused of threatening legal action. The flaws were of such a fundamental nature that they brought the very credibility of the report into doubt.

The Minister on her own, upon realising the flaws in the MTT report, decided to postpone the release of the report and allow us to make representations. A meeting for this purpose was set for the 16th of May yet, to our utter dismay, the report that still contains unfounded allegations has miraculously found its way to the City Press.

Our understanding of the objectives of the MTT was that it was intended to help us expose those that unduly acquired employment within the sector at all levels. SADTU has long reiterated the fact that we are as disturbed as everyone else regarding the allegations of these irregularities. Whilst some evidence has emerged pointing that certain individual members of SADTU may be implicated, we condemned any such action of any of our members in the strongest possible terms. It is in this context that we supported the appointment of the Task Team and gave it our full cooperation and continues to do so. We have even committed that once all evidence is available and where necessary, SADTU will take appropriate action against any member implicated and found to have been involved in such irregularities.

When the first report was leaked, we wrote on numerous occasions to the MTT and later, when our pleas were not heard, to the Minister to request that we be provided an opportunity to state our side of the story. We further requested the MTT to provide us with the evidence that led to some of its findings. We still have not been provided with the opportunity. We hoped the meeting of the 16th of May would provide us with the opportunity. However, judging by this leak, we can tell the meeting is now clearly nothing more than a cosmetic exercise meant to create an impression that the correct procedures had been followed. It is clear that no amount of representations and evidence will persuade the MTT otherwise.

The newspaper goes further to suggest that we are a "stumbling block" to the release of the report and yet mischievously chooses to ignore the fact that it is all the Unions in education and not just SADTU that raised serious concerns with the release of an incomplete report in meetings with the Minister of Basic Education. We are on record as having expressed our displeasure with the postponement of the release of the report.

Some aspects of the report published in the City Press are defamatory and will not be left unchallenged. In addition to any other action we take, we shall pursue a defamatory claim and assist those of our members who are defamed to do so.

It is a defamatory to insinuate that members of SADTU who are in parliament are there because of the relationship we have with the ruling party. It is a well known fact those who in parliament, are active members of the ANC and the SACP. Some, if not all, were activists within the Mass Democratic Movement before the unbanning of the ANC. They were never parachuted by SADTU but their sheer commitment and hard work for the liberation of this country, the ruling party elevated them to where they are.

We dispute the comments attributed to the General Secretary and the Deputy General Secretary as contained in the report of the MTT as a deliberate distortion of their presentations. SADTU has always maintained that allegations of irregularities must be properly investigated so that those involved be brought to book. SADTU has never at any stage suggested to the MTT that the sale of posts is widespread. Interestingly, all cases reported by SADTU have not been investigated by the MTT for unexplained reasons. We have more reason now to believe that this investigation was intended solely to weaken SADTU.

It is a hard pill to swallow and admit that we have been led astray by highest office of education in the country with this investigation. We gave our time and resources to an investigation that had no interest in getting to the root of solving the jobs-for-cash report but its sole aim was to tarnish our name and use us a scapegoat for all the ills in the education system.

We therefore take off our gloves in defence of our union, labour rights and human rights.