Legislature's legal adviser clarifies that WCED head's contract extension 'not irregular'
Cape Town - The Western Cape legislature's legal adviser, advocate Romeo Maasdorp, has following recent controversy clarified the process undertaken to extend the contract of Western Cape Education Department head Brian Schreuder.
Maasdorp explained that in terms of Section 16 (7), Schreuder’s contract extension was not irregular solely for want of approval by the legislature.
The advocate was requested to draft a legal opinion and advise on whether the legislature was obliged to approve the appointment of a head of department (HoD), ostensibly appointed in terms of the Public Service Act (1994).
This comes amid scrutiny of the legality of extending Schreuder’s contract. He was appointed on a contract as HoD from December 1, 2016, until March 31, 2019.
After the expiry of that period, Schreuder entered into another contract with the department for a further period, ending in March 2021, by which time he would have reached the age of 69.
The standing committee on education yesterday considered the legal opinion requested from advisers following the Public Service Commission’s (PSC)'s investigative report on Shreuder’s contract.
DA provincial spokesperson on education Lorraine Botha said the legal opinion advised that Section 16 (7), upon which the PSC's report was based, did not impose a legal obligation on the legislature in the approval of the extension of the HOD’s contract.
Botha said the extension of the HOD’s term of office was done in accordance with advice received from the Department of Public Service and Administration in 2017, which the final report by the PSC failed to include. “This led to the misinterpretation of facts around the process of the contract extension,” said Botha.
ANC provincial spokesperson on education Khalid Sayed said they had noted the legal opinion, but warned that the legal opinion must not be used as a cover for the DA to absolve the provincial cabinet from any possible irregular behaviour, and from blocking the legislature from fully exhausting the matter and thereby exercising its oversight.
Sayed said the opinion did not provide a view on the correctness of the process undertaken to extend the HOD’s appointment.
“It thus remains fair and imperative that the education committee calls the (PSC) commissioner to speak (on) the PSC report, as we have now heard the opinion of the premier, the legislature’s legal adviser and members of the committee on this matter,” said Sayed.
“It could not be that we wait for further documents from the PSC before hearing what the PSC commissioner has to say about his own report."