A move by the Department of Basic Education – to hastily employ 300 000 temporary education and general school assistants at schools across the country – has backfired here in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), where staff are yet to be paid.
According to the DA’s correspondence with KZN Education MEC, Kwazi Mshengu, National Treasury has not yet made the funding available to provinces. He and his HOD have also advised that they are not aware of when those affected in KZN will be paid.
The DA regards this as nothing short of poor planning which has left thousands of people high and dry during an already very difficult period.
At the time that the staff were employed in December last year, the DA warned MEC Mshengu against the initiative. Our first concern was the timing, with staff set to be employed as the holidays approached.
Then there was the fact that temporary workers were not being vetted, including the process where the sexual offenders’ registry is checked.
The DA has long advocated for tighter controls in this area – a plea which the Department of Education (DoE) leadership is yet to take seriously. Our final concern was that the posts might create undue expectations in the long term.
While the DA supports any initiative aimed at providing employment, the fact is that temporary posts also do not lift people out of poverty, unless the jobs last for at least two years. These education posts, meant only for a few months, neither benefit those employed nor the DoE in the long term.
The situation has now come to a head, with thousands now demanding their pay and no indication from the provincial government as to when this will happen.
This is completely unacceptable and both MEC Mshengu and Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni need to tell them where they stand.
The DA in KZN will continue to observe the situation on the ground and will request that our national counterparts in Education and Treasury ask the hard questions about when these payments will be made.
Had the ANC led-government taken heed not to employ staff in schools, just when they were about to close and had they made sure that funding was available prior to yet another ‘quick fix’ scheme for their branch members- they would not be in this situation.