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Durban - Administrative glitches were behind the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department’s failure to pay the province’s Grade R teachers a portion of their promised salary increases.

Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said: “We did not deliberately fail to pay them. We had an administrative glitch. We are committed to the promise that we made.”

Earlier on Monday, South African Democratic Teachers Union provincial secretary Nomarashiya Caluza said at a press conference in Durban that the department had agreed to pay Grade R teachers R5 500 a month from April, but that the increase had ?never been paid.

She said the head of the provincial education department, Dr Nkosinathi Sishi, then promised earlier this month that the teachers would be paid R1 500 of their increase by Christmas Eve. This too, had however, not materialised.

“KwaZulu-Natal Education Department remains the worst employer. They [Grade R] teachers are an important segment. They are not a crèche. They are not babysitters,” she said.

Caluza said Sadtu had accepted the lesser amount of R1 500 as it understood that the department had budgetary constraints.

She said the union had given the department five days to pay the outstanding salary increment to Grade R teachers. The department’s failure to pay meant negotiations had been conducted in bad faith, Caluza claimed.

Mahlambi said that the department was not “reneging on our promise. We had hoped to have it sorted by Christmas, but administratively it could not be done.”

Caluza further said that the union was aware that 500 matric exam markers in the province had not been paid.

Mahlambi said that the department had paid most of the markers, but where there were discrepancies in the information provided by the markers and information the department had, these discrepancies had to first be resolved before payment could be made.

“We would have loved to have paid all of them before Christmas,” said Mahlambi.

Caluza also accused the department of appointing two directors of legal services when the department’s own organogram stated there was only one such post in the department. She said that not only should the head of department explain the appointments, but the education MEC Peggy Nkonyeni should show how she authorised the appointment.

“Why and how did she approve an appointment that is non-existent?” she asked.

Mahlambi said: “We are aware of these issues and we acknowledge the union’s concerns. We will clarify the situation in the new year.”

Caluza said that if markers and Grade R teachers were not paid the union would stage a protest outside Durban’s International Convention Centre where the province’s matric results are expected to be announced on January 6.