Education PS, TSC’s plot to fire teachers, and the CIT syndicate



BY : ZWELI MARTIN DLAMINI

JOHANNESBURG: : Sibongile Mtshali, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Teaching Service Commission (TSC) Chairman Simanga Mamba allegedly plotted to fire teachers and replaced them with graduates mostly from the CIT College to which the former have interests. CIT is a private college with strong links to PS Sibongile Mtshali and the TSC, it is owned by Sandra and her husband Mxolisi Mtshali, a brother to the Education Ministry Controlling Officer. But now fresh information have emerged how the CIT syndicate within the Ministry of Education has been plotting to take advantage of the current situation between government and teachers to dismiss the educators and replace them with a huge list of graduates mostly from the CIT college who were promised jobs in government in the event they enroll at the institution.

The syndicate allegedly works directly with TSC Chairman Simanga Mamba who has been spotted by our investigators on numerous occasions, with the Administrators of the college and at some point he was invited to a graduation ceremony where he allegedly endorsed the college. Reached for comments by this Swaziland News publication, Mxolisi Mtshali, one of the owners of the college confirmed that the Education PS was his blood sister, however he clarified that they were never at any point given preferential treatment by the Ministry. “We were never given preference as CIT just because she is my blood relative, no, that is not true. Secondly, I’m not aware of any concerns Nkhosi but what I know is that we are dealing with the Council which was introduced by the Ministry concerning colleges and Universities in the country for that matter” he said.

The businessman further confirmed being married to Sandra Mtshali, one of the owners of CIT. But teachers who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity said when they arrived at the Ministry especially at TSC, they were told to enroll at CIT for a Diploma in Education. “Its true that once you graduate at CIT, you are assured of employment as the College enjoys relations with the PS and TSC officials. Most aspiring teachers are now enrolling there” said a teacher.

But Simanga Mamba, the TSC Chairman, when reached for comments denied any links with CIT and that there was any secret move to fire teachers and replace them with graduates mostly from the said institution. The TSC Chairman did not dispute allegations that those who graduated from CIT are easily employed by TSC, instead he wondered if that on it’s own imply that graduates from other institutions were not employed. “Are those from William Pitcher not employed and those from Limkokwing who have done ICT. Also those from SCOT are not employed. If they are employed what’s the role of an institution in employing graduates” he asked.

The Chairman consistently maintained that he had no links with the said college adding that he was not even aware that the said institution was linked to Principal Secretary Sibongile Mtshali. However, he did not deny gracing the college’s graduation ceremonies but again, he clarified that this was only in his capacity as TSC Chairman where he receives invitations from various institution in the country. “On Saturday, I attended the graduation at UNISWA, does that mean I have links. Last month, I was at Ngwane College again it mean I have links. October 26 I’m at William Picher that suggests links?” he said. On or around September 2018, Principal Secretary Sibongile Mntshali, Acting Prime Minister Vincent Mhlanga and the TSC Chairman allegedly went to Ludzidzini Royal Palace to seek permission from the Queen Mother Ntombi Tfwala to fire teachers. Others who formed part of the delegation include Exams Councils Registrar Edwin Mazibuko and Secretary to Cabinet Mbuso Dlamini. The delegation was there to report to the Queen that teachers defied a court order by engaging in a strike action hence they should be fired. Furthermore, the delegation allegedly tried to mislead the Queen that SNAT was not necessarily seeking 6.5% salary increase but the organization was on a political mission to fight and overthrow government. Simanga Mamba, a lawyer by profession allegedly ignored a legal framework between government and SNAT that allow teachers to attend the latter’s activities, which he then interpreted as a strike.

Sibongile Mtshali, the PS in the Ministry of Education declined to comment when reached by this publication, however when speaking to the Swazi Observer she said she was not aware of the plot to fire teachers. “I have no idea what the teachers were discussing in their meeting and there is no truth in that we are seeking permission from the country’s authorities to fire teachers” she said. But the TSC Chairman when asked to respond on the matter said they only issued a warning to teachers not to engage in the strike action disguised as SNAT activities.

“We never wanted to fire teachers. We issued a warning to teachers that they should not absent themselves by attending the strike disguised as SNAT activities. You can’t issue a warning today and then fire the teachers tomorrow, we were just making them aware that they would be consequences” said the TSC Chairman. But royal insiders who spoke this publication confirmed that Simanga Mamba and his delegation did tried to get permission to fire teachers but were told by Royalty to stop the process as it might create more political tensions. This comes after the Queen Mother requested a meeting with SNAT NEC so she could verify some of the information presented by the TSC Chairman and his delegation. But the investigation unit of this publication uncovered that even before the meeting with the Queen at Ludzidzini Palace, the Ministry of Education through the TSC was already developing a framework on how to deal with the intended strike action by firing teachers. It has been disclosed that soon thereafter the Ministry through the various Regional Education Offices (REO) produced a “Strike Spot Checking Tool” document whose intention was to identify teachers who attended the SNAT activities that was interpreted by the TSC as a strike. The strategy according to our investigations was not only to benefit the CIT syndicate but it was also an intimidation tactic to disorganize SNAT intended strike.

But the TSC Chairman, when asked further questions about the meeting at Ludzidzini and the plot to fire teachers, he later changed tune, denying ever going to the Palace.

“Actually,I never went to Ludzidzini and there were no plans to fire teachers, firing teachers is a process, it cannot be just done overnight” he said. But Sikelela Dlamini, the SNAT Secretary General confirmed to this publication that the Chairman was seen at the Palace but the Queen Mother requested to meet the teachers first as she had already received privilegued information regarding the intentions of the TSC Chairman and his delegation. “While we were at the Palace, I saw Simanga Mamba, Sibongile Mtshali, Acting Prime Minister Vincent Mhlanga, Mbuso Dlamini, the Secretary to Cabinet and Mazibuko Edmund, from Exams Council” he said.

On another note, royal sources alleged that while the government delegation was waiting outside, with the meeting between SNAT and the Queen in progress, Simanga Mamba allegedly made a call to one of the SNAT NEC members informing him that some Executive members were at the Palace. It could not be ascertained what was Mamba’s intentions when he made the call to the SNAT NEC member but insiders with SNAT revealed that he was on a mission to create division within the teacher’s organization to push his political ambitions. “Actually, some of the former SNAT NEC members who are bitter for losing the elections are very close to Simanga and therefore, they are trying to divide the organization” said the insider. Indeed, what transpired next was sensitized headline by the King’s owned newspaper, the Swazi Observer suggesting that there was division within SNAT. The report alleged that some teachers and NEC members were against the strike. However, the Swazi Observer reports were later confirmed to be misleading as the SNAT Executive told the Queen that there was actually no strike but teachers were attending activities after engaging in nation-wide protest organized by its parent union, the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) The newspaper further alleged that the SNAT Executive sneaked to Ludzidzini to apologize to the Queen over the strike. But royal insiders alleged that the NEC members never sneaked to the Palace on their own but were requested by royal authorities to give clarity on the allegations submitted by Simanga Mamba and his delegation. Normally, Swazis who want to meet their Majesties organize cattle and have an emissary as per Swazi Law and Custom but it was different with the SNAT Executive members who responded to a call from the authorities.

“Simanga has political ambitions. He wants to be appointed in the new government that’s why he wants to be seen as a person who can solve this issue of teachers to proof his bravery to the King” said our source. In an earlier press statement, the SNAT NEC had confirmed going to Ludzidzini Palace to give clarity on the information that was presented to the Queen Mother about the teacher’s organization.