Members of the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) march to the department of higher education and training in Pretoria on Tuesday. PHOTO: ANA

Pretoria - The National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) wants department of higher education and training director-general Gwebinkundla Qonde and his deputy Lulama Mbobo fired, citing the senior officials' alleged "preference for whites as senior managers" in the national department. 

“On the removal of the Director-General Gwebinkundla Qonde and Deputy Director-General Lulama Mbobo, we stand here shocked by the allegations that the DG is conspiring with college managers to neutralise the union [Nehawu] in different workplaces and that he encourages union bashing that is prevalent in the sector, which has resulted in the expulsion of a number of our shop stewards for whistle blowing,” Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha said as he read out a memorandum at the DHET offices in Pretoria central. 

“We condemn the rampant nepotism and cronyism in the appointment of college principals, senior management in SETAs [Sector Education and Training Authority] and the DG’s preference for whites as senior managers in DHET, while continuously appointing white untransformed service providers in areas like forensic auditing." 

Dubbed the Day of Action, the Nehawu protest began in Marabastad, before the workers, clad in red t-shirts, marched to Pretoria central, monitored by numerous police officers. 

Reading out the Nehawu demands, Saphetha called on Higher Education and Training Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize “to remove” the duo of Qonde and Mbobo for “failing to implement sound human resources policies”.

Additionally, Nehawu called for an end to outsourcing and the use of consultancy within the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector. 

“SAICA (the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants) and the minister signed a memorandum of agreement to help supplement the operation of the TVET colleges as part of the transitional arrangements following the migration in 2015. This was in the areas of Human Resources and financial expertise. This, in our understanding, was to help build capacity of the TVET staff and transfer of skills. However, this has translated into a permanent takeover of the work of TVET staff by the consultants placed at our colleges and in many cases are destabilising the whole management and operations of colleges,” said Saphetha. 

“The SAICA project was supposed to last for 24 months but their stay has been extended by another six years. The question that must be asked is why the contract is extended and who benefits? In addition to the above, the majority of the TVET colleges have outsourced the following - garden and cleaning services, security enforcement and legal representation.”