Johannesburg - MINISTER Angie Motshekga was this week still undecided about how she would implement the public protector’s recommendations that she take remedial action against Bobby Soobrayan, her embattled director-general.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report released three weeks ago found Soobrayan “specifically failed to exercise the necessary diligence and leadership” to avert a workbooks delivery and shortage crisis in the Eastern Cape last year and this year.
She nailed Soobrayan for the absence of mechanisms required to ensure successful delivery.
“There clearly was a systems failure in that there was inadequate monitoring of the workbook ordering process, as this process was inaccurate in determining the correct amount/quantity of workbooks required.”
Madonsela recommended Motshekga take “appropriate remedial” measures and “hold Soobrayan accountable for actions and omissions that resulted in the failure” to ensure proper supply of workbooks to Eastern Cape pupils.
But Motshekga was not yet in a position to decide on what corrective action to take against Soobrayan, who has been suspended over another disciplinary case. Instead, Motshekga has decided to combine the findings of all three investigations against Soobrayan, according to her spokesman, Panyaza Lesufi.
Motshekga would act on Soobrayan’s fate in the department only when an outstanding report was supplied to her.
This would detail findings of an investigation by the Public Service Commission (PSC).
The commission’s investigation into Soobrayan’s role in the 2012 Limpopo textbooks debacle has apparently been under way since the beginning of this year.
“The minister is currently awaiting the last report that will allow her to act on this matter,” Lesufi told The Sunday Independent.
“Upon receipt of the outstanding report (from the PSC), the minister will at the beginning of the year announce her decision on all these reports.
“This report is now the only one outstanding as we have now received the report from (retired Judge Willem van der Merwe) appointed to also investigate the role of Soobrayan on matters pertaining to the appointment of markers at examination centres and other related matters,” Lesufi said.
Van der Merwe presided over a disciplinary hearing Motshekga instituted against Soobrayan following allegations levelled against him by the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu).
Earlier this year Sadtu took its members to the streets demanding Soobrayan’s dismissal for allegedly reneging on an agreement that would have double salaries for teachers marking matric exam papers.
Soobrayan signed the agreement on behalf of the department in 2011. However, the department refused to implement it, saying Soobrayan signed erroneously and the deal would cost nearly R1billion a year.
But the department would not reveal Van der Merwe’s verdict just yet. “We will do so early next year, after the minister has consulted the director-general and those affected,” Lesufi said.
Soobrayan would also not comment on Van der Merwe’s report, because it was now before Motshekga for consideration.
But he was confident the PSC’s investigation would clear his name. “I’m sure I’ll be vindicated by the commission. I did nothing wrong (that could have scuppered appropriate delivery of textbooks in Limpopo).”
On Madonsela’s findings, Soobrayan said the “the facts” he supplied to the public protector “all show that the systems were in place” to monitor the delivery of workbooks in the Eastern Cape. “If you look at the facts you’ll come to a different conclusion,” he said. “I’ll welcome the opportunity to clarify with the minister at an appropriate time.”
Mugwena Maluleke, Sadtu’s general secretary, told The Sunday Independent that the union maintained Soobrayan “must be fired”.
“Remember, our position is that we won’t have a stable department under his leadership,” Maluleke said.