Staff owe KZN Education department R532 million

Employees owe the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education (DoE) half a billion rand.

Employees owe the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education (DoE) half a billion rand.

Published Apr 16, 2024


Employees owe the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education (DoE) half a billion rand.

A report tabled before the Standing Committee On Public Accounts (Scopa) recently showed the department is owed R532 million by its employees. It was not immediately clear how the debt was accumulated.

The report implied part of it was due to overpayments.

Members of Scopa were briefed on the debt that has increased by close to R100m from last year, during a meeting with department officials.

The department met with Scopa to brief it on its responses to the issues raised by the office of the Auditor General in an audit of the department’s affairs.

Under the AG query, provision for impairment of receivables: staff debt of R532.59m, the department said it was working to address the issue.

With regard to staff debts, monthly recoveries are deducted against their salaries and for employees terminated, recoveries are made against their leave gratuities and pension benefits.

It said thus far it had recovered R44.9m in the past three quarters in the financial year for debts from employee salaries, leave gratuities and pension benefits.

“When there are disputes regarding the acknowledgement of debt and recoveries, the debtor’s file is referred to the department’s Labour section and Legal Service to be recovered,” it said.

The department said it was also addressing the AG’s concerns that its systems failed to detect when an employee had left the department, which led to salaries still being paid.

“In respect of terminations emanating from employee resignations, the department has drastically reduced the number of late terminations due to timeous processing of termination of Persal. This shows effective implementation of the Department’s Standard Operating Procedures. The department has identified 72 late terminations of permanent employees.

The department is now in the process of finalising investigations prior to implementing consequence management for salary overpayments which were avoidable.”

It added that it was also looking at the procurement of new systems.

“Procurement of an electronic system is in the final stages and being negotiated with the State Information Technology Agency, in line with Auditor General requirements.

“A task team, comprising the Provincial Treasury, Office of the Premier, Human Resources, Finance and Internal Control, is overseeing the process, to ensure the impact is immediate, especially on overpayments,” the department said.

The DA’s Imran Keeka said it was clear the department was mired in a series of crises.

“KZN’s learners must be placed first and the DoE placed under provincial administration. The MEC must also be immediately removed and any prospect of ever occupying such a critical post again must not be entertained,” he said.

Chairperson of the Scopa Committee, Maggie Govender, expressed doubt about the department’s solution to procure new technology to deal with some of the problems.

“This is a recurring problem. We heard from you that you are going to get an electronic tool to manage terminations. We have heard from you about another electronic tool that you are going to get for learning and teaching support materials.

“You are cash strapped, how many electronic tools are you going to get?” Govender questioned.

The Mercury