KZN Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu. Picture: Supplied

Durban -  Touching a raw nerve, the new MEC for education in KZN, Kwazi Mshengu, has urged the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), the biggest but controversial teachers union in the country, to rid itself of the corruption and teachers absenteeism stigma that has followed it for years.

Grabbing the bull by its horns, Mshengu said there is a public perception that the union has a hand in everything that is wrong in the education sector and threw down the gauntlet to the union, saying it is their duty to silence their detractors by acting in an acceptable manner. 

He was speaking as a guest speaker at the union's three days KZN provincial general council which was held in Durban on Monday.

"If we don't tell each other in these platforms, no one will... Sadtu must rid itself of the narrative or the image that says when there is corruption in schools, Sadtu is involved, we must rid ourselves of that. Remember that when speak about selling of (teaching) posts, they associate that with Sadtu... When they speak about absenteeism in schools, they associate that with Sadtu," Mshengu said. 

He told the gathering that the union's political partner, the African National Congress (ANC) is facing a similar challenge of being accused of corruption even though the perception is based on wrongdoing of a few in government and some may not be members of the party. 

"It is like this thing of associating corruption with the ANC. You know an official that is corrupting a department, we don't even know the (political) membership of that official and when you go the public we are told that the ANC is corrupt. We even end up believing that indeed we are corrupt," Mshengu said.

The biennial gathering will conclude on Wednesday and the South African Communist Party (SACP) is expected to send a senior representative from its head office to address the gathering on Tuesday. 

Political Bureau