Education MEC must investigate district director’s irregular actions

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition

Mpumalanga education MEC Reginah Mhaule must take action against Nkangala district director Mr JJ Mabena for his seeming disregard of due process in the appointment of school principals.

In 2011 a vacancy for deputy principal arose at the Sizani Primary School in GaMorwe. Since then, the school and the governing body have been put under pressure from the circuit (allegedly under instruction from Mr Mabena) to appoint a Ms Mahlangu, despite the SGB’s refusal to do so on the grounds of due process not being followed.

In 2013, the post was advertised for the first time, and increased pressure was put on the SGB to appoint Ms Mahlangu. The SGB refused, and wrote to the Department of Education and the HOD reporting Mr Mabena’s actions and requesting assistance in the matter.

At the beginning of the 2014 school year Ms Mahlangu was appointed to the position without the approval of the SGB. When the SGB objected to this decision, Mr Mabena immediately suspended the principal, Ms Mohapi, on the grounds of her taking sides with the SGB, and appointed Ms Mahlangu as acting principal.

This is the second time that Mr Mabena has reportedly flouted the recommendations of a school’s SGB, and the second time that the Department of Education has ignored correspondence from a SGB over his alleged interference.

In November last year the MEC promised me that she would investigate Mr Mabena’s actions following the spat between the SGB of Moniwa Primary and the district manager, when Mr Mabena endorsed the appointment of a new principal, despite the SGB’s protestations.

From his actions it is becoming increasingly clear that Mr Mabena regards schools under his jurisdiction as his own fiefdom, and uses the appointment of senior positions to dish out favours, irrespective of their suitability for the positions, or the recommendations of the governing bodies.

The appointment of unsuitable individuals will have a severe impact on the quality of education in the district, and if Mr Mabena’s questionable actions are allowed to continue, it will frustrate learners’ chances of building a better future.

The DA will once again write to MEC Mhaule and insist that she live up to her November promises to investigate Mr Mabena’s actions, and take the necessary disciplinary steps should he be found to have contravened the South African Schools Act.

No learner must be disadvantaged by nepotism and political patronage.