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Mpumalanga Department of Education underpays contract teachers

Reference: Published by Masoka Dube (Sunday World), 9 July 2023

After receiving no payment from the Mpumalanga education department for more than a year, some contract teachers are incensed.

Outside of Hazyview in Marite, six Lamulelani High School teachers claim they have been waiting in vain for their wages.

They claimed that anytime they inquired about their salaries, the provincial department would throw them from pillar to post. Zwelithini Fakude, one of the impacted instructors who teaches math and science-related courses, expressed his frustration to Sunday World. “I began working as a teacher at the school in May of last year, and I was informed that I would start getting paid on June 1st, but that never happened.

We are always informed that the salary will be paid at the end of the month when we inquire. For instance, when we visited the department’s office in the Bohlabela district in May, we received the same assurance that the money would be disbursed on June 1st. However, it is now July and I still haven’t received my wage.

Fakude claimed that the circumstances had made it difficult for him to maintain his quality of living and that he had been compelled to lower it. He continued by saying that he had to pull his kids out of the private school. Fakude claimed that a coworker who was experiencing the same problems had already lost her automobile due to nonpayment of the instalment. Another unpaid teacher who is having financial difficulty is Kendrick Mashego. He claimed that things were very bad for him and his family.

The circumstances are terrible, very severe. I’m not even sure how to put it into words. It’s true what they said; we have no money to buy anything. Just consider going an entire year without a paycheck while we are at work, Mashego remarked.

The school administration and school governing body (SGB) requested that the Mpumalanga department of education reimburse the teachers’ unpaid wages in a letter that was sent in November 2022. “We ask that the department expedite the following unpaid educators’ long-overdue processing. All departmental structures and divisions have been informed of the issue with the aforementioned instructors. The matter at hand is known to the circuit, district, province, and labor unions formation, according to a portion of the letter.

According to a reliable department source, the department gave the Lamulelani High School principal and SGB permission to hire the teachers as required by law because “the department failed to get the educators for the profiled subjects.” Other teachers appear to be impacted by the department’s refusal to pay contract teachers.

According to a pay advice obtained by Sunday World, one of the instructors who was relocated from Lamulelani to another school recently collected his wage for the first time.

There were seven unpaid contract teachers present before he was transferred. Willie Mhlanga, the deputy principal at Lamulelani High School, declined to respond when asked for a statement on the grounds that he was not permitted to speak to the media. Since they must deal with the media, I advise you to get in touch with the department’s communication team in the province, Mhlanga added.

Lamulelani High School was set ablaze by irate community members during a service delivery protest about eight years ago. The department declared that it had put aside R13 million to repair the school in response to the losses. The sources state that the school’s construction ought to have begun in April.

The students have been studying under a tree and using pit toilets ever since the school was demolished.

Speaking on behalf of the Mpumalanga Department of Education, Jasper Zwane charged the institution of enabling the affected teachers to begin work before the department had finished its HR procedures, which caused payments to be delayed.

“As a result, documentation requesting the employment of such teachers now arrive at the HOD’s office months after the teachers have already started working in the classrooms.

Before instructors take on responsibilities, schools have a duty to recommend candidates for employment and obtain the HOD’s consent.The Department issued a circular to instruct schools to avoid this practice after realizing that it had the potential to lead to irregular practice.

“The teachers you’re referring to are included in the group of those who worked in schools before the Accounting Officer appointed them. However, the Departmental Human Resource Directorate is investigating their problem, Zwane stated.