The DA is extremely concerned by a KZN Department of Education (DoE) report which suggests that one of two officials, who was suspended in March 2021, was paid a bonus in July despite sitting at home.
The report was submitted to members of KZN’s Education Portfolio Committee (view here) at the last education portfolio committee meeting.
Bonuses should be based on performance and merit. It is beyond comprehension that the DoE would pay a bonus to a suspended staff member who is not at work.
The reasons for the suspension of the officials and other questions by the DA during the portfolio committee meeting went unanswered, particularly those relating to the payment of the bonus. Instead, we were told that our queries would be responded to at the next meeting which is only scheduled for November.
This is very worrying given that senior departmental officials, including the HOD, CFO and the Deputy Director General for Corporate Services were all in attendance and in a position to give answers.
According to the report, one official was suspended in 2020 and the other in 2021 yet the dates for their hearings were only set down to proceed last month. The question is: Why has it taken so long to get to this point?
The DA is not prepared to wait until sometime next month for answers. As a result, I have today submitted written parliamentary questions to KZN Education MEC Mbali Frazer (view here). Amongst the questions I have asked are;
• Whether the hearings have taken place
• The cost of the hearings
• The amount paid to the two suspended officials and;
• Most importantly, whether a bonus – and the sum involved – was indeed paid to the one suspended official.
It is hoped that the MEC and her management will reveal to the committee the reasons for the suspensions.
It is vexing that a department – whose purpose it is to ensure quality education for our learners – may in fact be paying much-needed funds to someone twiddling their thumbs at home. This on top of being paid a hefty salary to do nothing. Such possible skulduggery is unacceptable.
Then there is the issue of officials being suspended with pay for long periods of time while others are over-burdened as a result of taking on their work loads. This can only have a negative effect on the Department’s overall performance.
The DA expects MEC Frazer and her HOD to answer for such gaps in the management of senior staff affairs. It points to poor accountability and a complete lack of care in how the department’s finances and resources are managed.
The DA will continue to keep an eye on this matter and hold the MEC accountable. It is increasingly clear that the 2024 ballot box must ensure an accountable government – one that looks after the public purse and places our learners first.