THE Eastern Cape Education Department last week issued a circular to all staff outlining how it would comply with the court order for the payment of outstanding teacher salaries and the filling of vacant posts by November 2.
Following the Grahamstown High Court ruling two weeks ago, acting head of department Mthunywa Ngonzo said yesterday there were systems in place to comply with the court order.
These, he said, included a 78-strong team to help with data capturing to effect payments to teachers owed salaries by the department tomorrow.
"We are already paying people and many will be paid [by the end of the week]. Some will not be paid on Friday but at the end of the month,” he said. "These are new entrants to the system who, by law, need to have been on the system for at least 30 days.”
Minister Angie Motshekga, director-general Bobby Soobrayan, Education MEC Mandla Makupula and Ngonzo were hauled before the court after an urgent application by the Centre for Child Law on behalf of dozens of schools and governing bodies.
While Ngonzo would not give further details on how the department would see the court order through, he said they were already implementing some of the issues contained in the court order.
"We have been employing people on a permanent basis even before the court order, so we are on track,” he said.
The department was ordered to permanently fill all vacant posts by November 2 and until such appointments were made, temporary teachers needed to be appointed by September 2.
It was also ordered to backpay all temporary teachers for their work since January as well as the governing bodies which had been footing the bill while the department failed to pay salaries.
DA spokesman on education MPL Edmund van Vuuren said while he welcomed the department’s willingness to comply with the order, he was sceptical about its capacity to do so. "We are cautiously optimistic the department will fully comply as they have previously cited a lack of funds.”
In the circular, Ngonzo indicated that once all payment information was received, the national department would give the provincial department the money to pay teachers and schools what they were owed.