Yesterday, in the run-up to the critical SRC elections taking place today and tomorrow at the University of Pretoria and the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), I and the DA Member of Parliament in the Portfolio Committee of Higher Education and Training, Hlomela Bucwa, visited these campuses.
We were deeply concerned by the disruptions caused by the ANC-aligned SASCO on the TUT campus. Members of SASCO are allegedly preventing bus services on this campus to access the main campus.
We have reason to believe that in keeping with their character, they disrupt the bus company because the service provider refused to pay SASCO leaders kick-backs or extortion money.
For years SASCO has hijacked learning institutions for their own looting purposes rather than to represent the true interests of students.
The DA Students Organisation (DASO) condemns the actions of SASCO in the strongest terms and we call on the university council as well as the presiding officer to investigate the matter.
Not only do the disruptions prevent students from attending class, it halters free and fair elections as guaranteed by the constitution of the republic.
We call on students at TUT to turn out in their masses to vote DASO and defy the obstacles created by the mini-Zumas.
During our visits to both TUT as well as the University of Pretoria, we outlined how critical these elections are to ensure that students have representatives that will represent all the students, particularly the most vulnerable.
DASO has proven that we are the only credible alternative that will put students first. The organisation will continue to work towards winning the SRC elections on campuses and show force in the run-up towards the 2019 national elections
A DASO-led SRC at each of these institutions will benefit students as we will work with our local governments and our representatives in the provincial legislature and the National Assembly to address the needs of all students.
DASO will advocate for all students and ensure that no student is left behind.
“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity, it is an act of justice, it is the protection of fundamental human rights – particularly the rights to dignity and decent life.”
Poverty is not natural, it is man-made. It can thus be overcome and eradicated by man-made actions. As such, when we make attempts to reverse the legacy of the past as governments and servants of the people, it is not a favour to anyone, it must happen and should happen. This is a joint responsibility that we all share as South Africans. Our primary mandate as public representatives is to advocate for the people of South Africa and this finds expression in the laws and budgets that we pass.
We find ourselves during a critical time in history, a time that requires the government to remain true to its promises and realisation of the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights, particularly the right to education.
It is common cause that there is unequal access to resources and infrastructure, which has a direct impact on the level of access to education, lack of success in institutions of higher learning and a lack of inclusive change that works for all and not for some. Often, students are forced to live in undignified conditions, using desperate measures to survive. It cannot be that in a constitutional democracy, many young people are without jobs and skills.
Yet, the Department of Higher Education and Training has underfunded students and institutions of higher learning in relation to the constraints that they face. The increased medium term allocation of R5 billion is unlikely to make a dramatic impact on access to education in institutions.
One of the cornerstones of the Democratic Alliance’s approach to redress is education and skills training. University and TVET college students from previously disadvantaged backgrounds face dire constraints to excelling and completing their courses. Academic success throughout is essential to economic growth and a growing tax base.
A DA run department of higher education would increase the budget to ensure that there is:
- appropriate subsidies for our institutions of higher learning;
- stability and change in our TVET colleges;
- a drastically improved NSFAS system while ensuring that funds are made available for the support of the missing middle; and
- a restructured Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA’s) so as to ensure that we produce an adequate supply of skilled individuals required by business and the wider economy.
A DA run department would ensure that no student who is academically deserving is denied access in an institution of higher learning because of their circumstances.
In a free society, students would be free to live with dignity whilst pursuing a higher qualification.
In a fair society, students would have an equal opportunity to succeed.
In an opportunity society, success is based on hard work and talent rather than the circumstances of one’s birth.
I thank you.
In response to a DA parliamentary question, the Minister of Higher Education and Training (DHET), Blade Nzimande, revealed that the Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (CHIETA), has been without a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the past six years.
The DA will now write to Minister Nzimande to enquire why the appointment of a new CEO has taken six years to fill and to demand that the vacancy is filled urgently.
According to their website “CHIETA contributes to sustainable development through facilitating the provision of skills for growth in the chemical industries sector”.
However, in the absence of a CEO to provide clear direction and leadership, the CHIETA will, before long, follow the trajectory of the Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Sector Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA), the Safety and Security Services Sector Education and Training Authority (SASSETA), and the Wholesale and Retail Sector Education and Training Authority (W&RSETA), which are all currently under administration following serious allegations of corruption.
The DA has long held that, although SETA’s play an important role in providing much-needed skills, in recent years it has become a financial drain in the public sector, with millions wasted on irregular and fruitless expenditure.
The DHET must prioritise fixing the issues at SETA’s to prevent a complete collapse of the skills development sector.
Our youth, especially the lost generation, need skills in order to participate in the economy, and in the absence of an effective model to provide skills for jobs, SETA’s must simply work.
The DA will submit further parliamentary questions to get to the bottom of how 13 of the 21 Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) spent R14 million of public money on lavish international trips in 2015 and 2016.
A series of replies to written DA parliamentary questions revealed that 13 SETAs spent millions to fund lavish international trips for their senior executives and board members.
The DA will now submit additional parliamentary questions requesting the full internal reports on these trips to learn if there is any demonstrable benefit to the performance of the SETAs as a result of the international travel.
The fact of the matter is that every possible cent should be poured into skills training, not on international travel for high-earning executives and board members.
The worst offender of this irregular expenditure is the Transport Education Training Authority (TETA) which spent R4.6 million during this period. The CEO, alone, accounted for R1.2 million on 8 international trips to various destinations including Brazil, the UK, the US and the Netherlands.
The second-highest expenditure was the R1.6 million spent by the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services SETA (merSETA), where the CEO took 11 international trips in 2015/2016. The third-highest is the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA) which spent R1.45 million.
Earlier this month the DA submitted a complaint to the Public Protector after allegations of extensive corruption amongst senior executives at the MQA came to light.
It is unacceptable that the executives of these SETAs, who can afford to pay for their travels out of their own pockets, spend such outrages amounts of public money, especially considering the high rates of underperformance amongst SETAs.
The Department of Higher Education and Training’s Annual Report for 2015/16 noted that only two of the four performance targets across SETAs were achieved. Only 40% of national artisan learners were either employed or self-employed after training and the latest available 2014 post-school education and training sector statistics showed that a mere 30.5% of those registered for internships, had been certificated.
For too long the lost generation of born frees have been the victims of decades of government greed and corruption.
The DA will find out, through the requested reports, whether these expensive trips have any tangible benefit to South Africans struggling to improve their skills and opportunity for employment.
The DA will today be submitting a complaint to the Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to request that she launches an investigation into the allegations of corruption by senior executives of the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA).
The MQA is a Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) under the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). SETAs are mandated to manage skills development, by managing grants and assuring the quality of training.
For months, MQA employees have lodged official complaints against their Acting CEO, Tegobo Mmotla, whom they accuse of misappropriating the entity’s funds. Despite the employees writing to the Director General at the DHET with these allegations, he remains in his positions.
A forensic report into previous corruption allegations against Mmotla resulted in MQA lawyers recommending he be dismissed – but an agreement was reached amongst executives which meant no action was taken against him.
Further allegations from employees and contractors of the MQA include:
- that Mmotla demanded a bribe from a skills training company after the company had not been paid, despite them meeting training targets;
- that Mmotla falsified his qualifications when he was appointed to the acting CEO position; and
- that bonuses were paid on a preferential basis despite those MQA employees not meeting targets.
The DA requests that the Public Prosecutor investigate this matter urgently. SETAs are given an extraordinary amount of money for the purpose of training South Africans to gain the skills that they so desperately need to gain sustainable employment.
Irregular expenditure at SETAs directly takes money away from developing skills for jobs, and intentionally increases the number of people who are Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET) in South Africa.
The DA will not allow for corrupt individuals to milk state entities and loot public funds for their own personal gain, as this takes away from the Lost Generation’s opportunities to empower themselves.