Sadtu furious as 33 teachers forced out

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Teachers' union, the South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu), has given the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department a caning for forcing 33 teachers, who are also councillors, to resign.

The teachers opted to pursue full-time political work as councillors after education authorities gave them an ultimatum last week. Choose between the two jobs, they said.

Statistics showed that 251 teachers serve as councillors in the province - 107 are ward councillors and only 33 have tendered their resignations, 144 are party representatives (PR) and 14 have applied to do both jobs.

In January parents expressed concern about teachers spending time away from the classroom to attend public meetings.

Ina Cronje, provincial MEC for education, is also far from satisfied.

"You can't hold down two full-time and equally challenging jobs. You either become a full-time teacher or full-time councillor, and we have given the teachers an alternative," she said.

Cronje said only PR councillors would be allowed to pursue both jobs after the department had satisfied itself that working for local government did not interfere with teaching.

"They can apply and we will thoroughly scrutinise their duties, what activities they are engaged in and then, if we are convinced that one work does not interfere with the other, they can continue," said Cronje.

But Sadtu spokesman Sipho Nkosi lashed out at Cronje and her department.

He said there was no law prohibiting teachers from being councillors.

"Cronje must prove to us how teaching was being affected," said Nkosi.

"We don't take this kindly. We have written to her asking for a meeting where we will demand an explanation. She must also clarify if this is the ANC's stance or her personal position."

Christi Naude, Education Department spokesman, said there were teachers earning a dual income without authorisation from the department.

"Teachers have 198 working days in the year. The councillors are expected to attend to the needs of their wards daily, so how can they be effective in both jobs?" she asked.