Friday, May 16, 2008

Zululand Observer May 16, 2008

May 16 , 2008



Ronelle Ramsamy

LEARNING has come to a halt for over 1 100 learners at Shikishela Primary School in Mtubatuba after irate community members demanded that the newly appointed principal vacate her position.
KZN Education MEC, Ina Cronje escorted principal, Mrs RN Mthembu (45) to the school last week to assume her position after the conclusion of a long drawn-out arbitration process spanning almost four years.
However, Mthembu was allegedly locked out of the school premises when she reported for duty on Monday morning.
Learners had reportedly been dismissed without proper authorisation while teachers congregated outside the locked school gates.
A number of letters had been thrown around the school grounds, labelling Mthembu as a 'fake principal' and demanding that she leave the school with immediate effect.
Fearing her safety, Mthembu reportedly waited at a neighbouring school for two hours and notified circuit managers.
The local police were called in by the KZN Education Department to intervene and the locks on the gate were subsequently broken.

In an exclusive interview with Mthembu on Tuesday, she said the situation at the school had become 'political and personal'.
'They are labelling me as an ANC principal, who will embezzle school funds.
'They are also making various allegations that are untrue. Individuals who have interests in the school are now influencing those inside the school.
' I have been told to take my things and go despite my appointment,' said Mthembu.
The principal has now made an application with the KZN Department of Education and her union SADTU to be officially moved from the school.
'Seemingly, that school will not function if I am there.
'Even after the arbitration process, they don't want me there.
'I don't want to be in a place where I am not accepted. The best thing is for me to be moved if teaching and learning is to resume,' added Mthembu.
Being in the education sphere for the past 17 years, Mthembu was posted to the school in 2004 after serving as principal of KwaMdolobha Secondary School in uBombo for four years.
However, there were certain objections over the appointment procedure and an arbitration process then ensued.
Since 2004, Mthembu has worked at the Education Circuit office and has being paid a principal's salary while the deputy principal acted in her position.
The matter was resolved earlier this year and Mthembu was to lawfully assume her post.
However, certain members of the school governing body have expressed dissatisfaction with the result of the dispute.

Banana Republic
Responding to the situation at the school, KZN Superintendent-General of Education, Dr Cassius R Lubisi, said Mthembu was lawfully appointed and anyone who tried to stop her from taking her position was acting outside the law.
'This is a country and not a banana republic!
'We operate under a rule of law. Some members of the School Governing Body have been implicated in this matter and they have received letters to confirm that the body is now disbanded.
'I will exercise my right in terms of the SA Schools Act and will lay charges against them.
'We will not allow people to act in an unlawful manner.
'We cannot sacrifice the education of children for politics, which must remain within political parties,' said Lubisi.

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