Teachers’ unions welcome new MEC Sipho Hlomuka

KZN Education Head Nkosinathi Ngcobo shakes hands with newly appointed KZN Education MEC Sipho Hlomuka at Truro House ahead of the MEC-HOD bilateral meeting on Thursday. | KZN Department of Education/ Facebook

KZN Education Head Nkosinathi Ngcobo shakes hands with newly appointed KZN Education MEC Sipho Hlomuka at Truro House ahead of the MEC-HOD bilateral meeting on Thursday. | KZN Department of Education/ Facebook

Published Jun 21, 2024


Durban — Teachers’ unions welcomed the appointment of a new Education MEC Sipho Hlomuka. This was after KwaZulu-Natal Premier Thamsanqa Ntuli appointed him on Friday last week.

Chief executive of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) in KZN, Thirona Moodley, said the union looks forward to working alongside Hlomuka.

“The newly appointed MEC has come with experience in serving the people of KZN as he was MEC of Transport. We wish him well in this new portfolio. Education in the province is not without challenges considering the size of the department and severe limitations on finance. We hope the MEC will recognise all stakeholders as equal partners and engage meaningfully with all the unions,” she said.

The National Teachers’ Union (Natu) said it noted, with anticipated optimism, the appointments of MECs for Education made by the newly inaugurated premiers in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

In their statement, Natu appreciated the speed with which the premiers have acted to appoint their executive councils and ensure that the 7th administration starts working without any further delay.

“Although Honourable Hlomuka has no traceable experience of governance in the education sector, he is not new in governance, as he has previously served as MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison during the 6th administration in the province. We hope and trust he will bring this experience to the education sector, as he now takes over the reigns of the biggest provincial education department in the country with an excellent National School Certificate (NSC) pass rate at 86.4% as of 2023,” the union said in a statement.

Natu hoped Hlomuka would work co-operatively with all stakeholders to advance education in the province.

“We are also encouraged in the knowledge that the Honourable Premier is himself a former teacher and school principal who understands the complexities of the sector, particularly the hardships faced by our teachers.”

South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) in KZN also welcomed and congratulated the newly appointed MEC for Education, saying they are hopeful the new MEC is capable enough to deliver on the demands of his new department, because he is not new to government.

Secretary of Sadtu Nomarashiya Caluza said, “The MEC must know he is taking over a very complex department with more than 100 000 workers of which the majority are teachers.

“Of importance, the new MEC is now responsible for a department with millions of learners who depend on people like him as MEC, to realise the aspirations of our Constitution which declared education a basic human right, with schools having to ensure that they deliver quality education.

“As a political leader, the MEC must help create stability in the department.

“We want a department where all workers (school and office-based) feel welcomed, recognised, and appreciated and this will translate to a motivated workforce committed to advancing and supporting quality public education delivery."

“As he comes in, the 2023 NSC results moved our province to position number two in the country. Sadtu holds a view that these results were a product of hard work by teachers with little support from the department. These results confirmed that the education system has matured in the province. However, if it is not supported, all will crumble.”

The union tabled the following advice for the MEC:

  • Prioritise the Quality Learning and Teaching campaign through mobilising all stakeholders and education-loving people to participate in protecting schools and support Sadtu’s school safety campaign.
  • Respect collective bargaining and commit to improving conditions of service of all workers including teachers, administration staff, Grade R practitioners and security. Embrace unions and other stakeholders and work with them to further stabilise the department and ensure the environment in schools is truly supportive of quality education delivery.
  • Fill all vacancies for teaching and non-teaching and office personnel.
  • Attend urgently to non/part payment of financial allocations to schools as it puts principals in a predicament, and they end up having to run schools from their pockets.
  • Improve teacher professional development initiatives.
  • Address infrastructure backlogs and infrastructure improvement needs.

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