Tom Stokes, MPP
DA KZN Spokesperson on Education
THE Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal will table a Bill in the KZN Legislature which restricts civil servants from doing business with the state after it was revealed that an astounding 2 485 KZN teachers currently have contracts with the Education Department.
The Business Interests of Employees Bill, already passed where the DA governs, is aimed at restoring good governance in education. The move comes after the KZN Education Department conceded in a Public Accounts committee last week that teachers were profiting from the Department on a large scale.
The recent Constitutional Court ruling that the opposition can introduce bills directly to a legislature without prior approval by a committee means that KZN legislators will be forced into a conscience vote on the 2 485 teachers and other civil servants doing business with the state.
While it is the right of every person in our country to earn a living of his or her choice, it is not an absolute right. In the case of educators, the right to augment their salaries by engaging in economic activities in addition to school duties needs to be limited by the extent of responsibility to their task to the full and complete development of the learners under their charge.
School holidays are part of teacher packages because the demand on time and energy during term time is such that it renders them exhausted at the end of term. If this argument for extensive holidays is to be accepted, and there is universal acceptance of it, then a parallel argument that time after school is the teachers to use at will, flies in the face of the need for extended holidays.
Aggravating the tenuous ground that teachers have, in being allowed to engage in other economic enterprises is the widespread malpractice of doing business with ones employer. All sorts of doors open up for corruption and devious schemes.
It is for this reason that the Western Cape has promulgated legislation to manage this issue. The province’s Business Interests Employee Act prescribes conditions under which teachers, amongst others, can engage in business activities whilst an employee to someone else. It also provides for the disclosure of such interests.
Given the magnitude of the problem in KwaZulu-Natal, it is clear that education officials need to follow the example set by the Western Cape.