The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology has said central bargaining was necessary for the Sector Education and Training Authorities (Setas), especially in light of the financial transgressions and governance challenges that besiege the sector.

On Tuesday, the committee was briefed on governance challenges and financial transgressions at the Services Seta and the Construction Education and Training Authority (Ceta). The committee heard Ceta employees were paid 15% salary increases, bonuses and a 100% pension benefit, but that the board reneged and unilaterally reversed the payments in October.

The Services Seta also incurred irregular expenditure of almost a billion rand in the year under review. Members were concerned about governance failures and irregular expenditure at the two Setas and said a change was necessary. “The lesson is that we need some dispensation that will be applicable to all the Setas,” said committee Chairperson Mr Philly Mapulane.

Committee Member Tebogo Letsie said he believed the committee should recommend to the minister that both boards be disbanded. Committee Member Mr Baxolile Nodada commented on the problem of the lack of accountability. “Parliament has a responsibility to make sure that the establishment of these Setas contributes to skills. We must not take this lightly. We must be firm as to what we recommend as outcomes of this process.”

He said the committee will recommend forensic investigations on the allegations made against the chair of the Ceta board in relation to the impact of irregular expenditure incurred after a Durban meeting that resulted in the payment of bonuses.

Committee Member Mr Bafuze Yabo said when people are tasked with responsibility on behalf of the people they are required to do that with the highest ethical conduct.

Committee Member Ms Nompendulo Mkhatshwa said the committee ought to be dealing with increasing the value of the Seta certificate and not squabbles. “We are dealing with issues of people being unable to run Setas. Nobody has a right to degenerate South African’s quality of life. Every member of the committee is committed to ensuring that we make South Africa a better place,” she said.

Ms Mkhatshwa supported the call for investigations into irregularities at the Ceta and called on people serving at boards to serve the people and stop being selfish. Mr Mapulane called on the CETA board to tender its resignation, failing which the committee will recommend to the minister that the board be dissolved.

“The board and management did not do what they were supposed to do. Management failed and that is serious injustice on what is being done to the workers at CETA.”

Mr Mapulane said CETA workers deserved an apology.

Sibongile Maputi

26 November 2019