The Limpopo Department of Education has been accused of rigging the selection processes to appoint a school principal and three assistant principals at four schools in Giyani.
According to sources who spoke to African Times, the disputes date back to 2021, after the department hired senior educators outside the initial recommendations by the relevant school governing bodies (SGBs).
The affected schools include Mashengani Primary School in Ka-Xikukwani, Zamani Primary School in Nkuri, Mavalani High School in Mavalani, and Kheto Nxumayo Agricultural High School in Siyandhani, all within the Greater Giyani Local Municipality.
According to Norman Hlungwane, the chairperson of Kheto Nxumayo SGB, their school’s principal was hired against the wishes and post-interview assessments of the governing body.
“It is true that we were bullied by the department because, during the interviews, we did not recommend the individual they ultimately appointed. A few days after the interviews, they introduced a man and gave us reasons why they chose to employ him; the reasons sounded valid, and we recommended him,” said Hlungwane.
Hlungwane explained they attempted to contest the decision made by education officials after learning there was possibly a nepotism link.
“We tried to challenge the education officials but were told that their decision was final. Our wish is to see this kind of nepotism addressed because many things will go wrong if this practice continues,” he said.
An SGB member from a different school, who wished to remain anonymous, added: “Yes, the Mopani East District officials are indeed undermining us.”
“Section 84 of the South African School Act of 1996 stipulates that SGB members are responsible for “recommending to the Head of Department the appointment of educators at their school.”
One of the teachers who allegedly passed an interview to become a school principal blamed nepotism for the appointment of a candidate who did not succeed during interviews.
“What’s going on here is that I am a victim of nepotism; I passed the interview for the position of assistant principal, but they later changed their story and hired someone else,” the teacher said.
The teacher, who also asked not to be named for fear of being victimised, said other teachers joined in to raise their concerns with the department but were ignored.
“This is not the first occasion that we have expressed our disapproval of nepotism. Several years ago, the department conducted an investigation into the same situation; however, the report was never made public. SGB representatives are being bullied by some principals and departmental officials,” the teacher said.
Limpopo Education Department spokesperson Mike Maringa said the department was aware of rigging allegations but denied them.
“All the appointments are above board and lawful. These allegations are not new. They were thoroughly investigated by the department and found to be unfounded,” Maringa said.