Department head Enoch Nzama has undertaken to investigate the delays in the appointment of teachers.
Durban - Teachers’ unions have accused the provincial Department of Education of delaying the official appointments of teachers and payment of their salaries in an effort to save money.

South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) provincial secretary Nomarashiya Caluza said since the beginning of the year the department’s policy appeared to be geared towards finding ways of delaying any appointments.

“A teacher would be employed and start working, but the processing of their details would take so long that a teacher would work for months without getting paid. And, when their forms were finally processed, the employer would start paying from the day the forms were signed, not from the day the person started working,” said Caluza.

She said their calculations showed that about 206 teachers were affected.

She said there were several other obstructive measures they had noticed.

“School principals are made to submit appointments forms several times and officials identify trivial mistakes which are inconsequential to the appointment requirements,” said Caluza.

She said officials also blocked the appointments of substitute teachers, which forced teachers to carry the extra burden.

“It takes schools more than six weeks to get approval for the appointment of a substitute teacher. In some extreme cases, the teacher would go on maternity leave but the application for a substitute would take so long that by the time it was completed, the teacher on leave was back at work.

“We are demanding the employer stop this tendency of imposing austerity measures which should not apply to educator appointment,” she said.

Thirona Moodley of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) said because of these delays, principals were often “caught between a rock and a hard place”.

“To employ a teacher, the head of the department, Enoch Nzama, has to approve it. That responsibility has not been delegated.

“Schools either have to work without a teacher or employ one and hope that teacher finally gets paid. Those who can afford to pay the teacher do so themselves,” said Moodley.

She said the department was looking for ways to streamline the process.

Education spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa said the issue of the delays in appointments was being addressed.

“We respect the opinion of the unions. They have just cause to raise the matter, which is why it is already being addressed. Dr Nzama has already told them,” said Mthethwa.

The Mercury