The Limpopo education department has been accused of wasting taxpayers’ money on salaries for two principals sharing a position at Seshego High School outside Polokwane for a period exceeding two years.
In 2019, the first principal was charged with misconduct and dismissed. The school governing body (SGB) structure he worked with was disbanded that same year in August 2019 and a new one was installed in December 2020.
Sources close to the matter told African Times that the aim of the first principal’s dismissal was to ensure that a temporary SGB structure was introduced for them to install a new principal, who would work well with district officials.
“This is an Animal Farm situation, where those in power make their own decisions and disregard all the laws at the disadvantage of their subordinates. The old SGB members were not corruptible and posed a challenge to district officials who wanted to have a say in who should be the principal.
“According to law, once an SGB is disbanded, a temporary structure is put in place but is not allowed to continue for more than 12 months. This temporary structure stayed on for 15 months and was only replaced once a new principal had been installed,” a source said.
The source said the processes to hire a new principal unfolded while district officials knew that the principal had taken his dismissal to the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC).
On March 1, 2021, the ELRC awarded the principal his job back after finding that he was unfairly dismissed.
“When the poor guy went back to Seshego High School on March 2, 2021, he found that a new principal was occupying his office. When he complained, he was allocated a chair and a desk at the local circuit offices, where he has been for the past two and a half years.
“Officials at the circuit are confused because the guy has not been given any responsibilities, but he has to show up to work every working day and sit there doing nothing. It has become a completely embarrassing situation,” the source said.
The source further revealed that the department was paying over R1 million to keep both principals on their payroll for the same post.
“It looks like the district officials have achieved their goal because they got someone they wanted, and their hope is for the first principal to retire and leave them in peace. We started smelling a rat when the new guy was interviewed for the position of principal at the district offices, which is bizarre because such interviews are normally held at the school where the candidate seeks employment,” the source added.
Limpopo education department spokesperson Mike Maringa confirmed the events that led to the first principal winning his job back, but said: “There is no crisis here.”
He denied that the principal has no responsibilities at the district office but stated he will continue to work there until his ELRC award is reviewed.
“The department is aware of the matter. The award in question is under review and the status quo will remain until the case is finalised. The principal in question is redeployed to the district office pending conclusion of the review,” Maringa said.
He said they were not aware of any school facing a similar challenge but insisted that Seshego High School has been functioning well ever since.
“The school has a new SGB that is working very well with the department and the school is doing well, no challenges. We will await the outcome of the review,” he insisted.