THE Democratic Alliance will today call for answers from KwaZulu-Natal education officials following the revelation that 81 displaced principals are sitting doing nothing at circuit offices around the province – most for up to six years – yet are still being paid their usual salaries.

If one assumes that all 81 principals are earning salaries in the region of R20 000 per month – a figure quoted in the media report – which they have received for the past six years, then some R116m has been paid to individuals who are not fulfilling their mandate. According to the report, 11 of the principals are from the Ndwedwe district. The DA is also aware of two Newcastle principals who have been removed from their posts and we remain extremely concerned about the role that teacher unions are playing in the displacement of principals. We believe that, in some instances, principals’ rights to work are being infringed.

According to the report, the 81 principals were removed from their posts following disputes within their schools, with one principal removed as far back as 2003. Yet he remains on the department’s payroll with a monthly income of R20 000. Efforts by the department to place the man within another school came to nothing after he refused a teaching post on the basis that it was not senior enough. In 2007 he approached the Durban High Court in an attempt to force the department to allow him to return to work as a principal. It was ruled that he be assigned to any school as a principal or another senior departmental post. The department subsequently offered him a choice of three schools, all of which he rejected. To date, the department has failed to carry out the court order.

Education remains one of KwaZulu-Natal’s biggest challenges and the department anticipates overspending on its current budget. Yet, each month it is paying principals who are not working. The onus lies with senior officials to find solutions. In failing to act decisively they are condoning the situation and failing the learners of our province. The DA will today submit the following written questions to KZN Education MEC, Senzo Mchunu;

– What is the current status of the 81 displaced principals?

– Which circuit offices are they currently reporting to?

– What tasks are they assigned during working hours?

– What action is the department taking to ensure that they are placed in suitable posts?

– Has the department investigated its legal right to sever ties with individuals should ongoing attempts to place them in suitable positions be rejected?

– Has the payment of salaries to the 81 displaced principals been declared by the department as wasteful expenditure?

– How many of the displaced principals have received bonuses of any form since being displaced?

The buck stops with the MEC and his senior officials. They cannot simply throw their hands in the air and must now provide answers as to how they will deal with this appalling waste of taxpayers’ money.

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