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MBABANE – They do not come as bigger as the leader of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers.

Government has commenced proceedings that will likely see SNAT president Mbongwa Dlamini facing disciplinary action on four charges of misconduct that include unauthorised absenteeism.
These possible charges relate to his official duties as a teacher at Mhubhe High School. He has since been called upon to give reasons in writing why disciplinary action should not be taken against him in respect of the misconduct charges. The ministry of education and training served Dlamini with a letter containing the possible charges on Friday afternoon – the day public sector associations held a march in the capital city and delivered petitions to different government ministries.

The SNAT leader faces possible charges of misconduct in relation to Regulation 15. (1) (a), (c), (g), (i) and (j) of the Teaching Service Regulation of 1983 as read together with Section 36 of the Employment Act, No.5 of 1980. On the unauthorised absenteeism, Dlamini is alleged to have contravened Section 36 (f) of the Employment Act “in that you absented yourself from duty for more than three working days in a period of 30 days without either the permission from the school or a certificate signed by a medical practitioner certifying that you were not fit for work on those occasions”.

Faces possible dismissal

This comes with a possible dismissal as the section states that: “It shall be fair for an employer to terminate the services of an employee because the employee has absented himself from work for more than a total of three working days in any period of 30  days without either the permission of the employer or a certificate signed by a medical practitioner certifying that he was unfit for work on those occasions”.

According to the recognition agreement between SNAT and government, the first responsibility of officers of the association who are employed by government is to carry out the duties allotted to them by the employer and they shall not leave work to attend to association business without permission from their immediate supervisor.
This permission, says the agreement, “will not be unreasonably withheld”.

The second possible charge is failure, neglect and/or refusal to submit official school records for inspection. This is said to have happened on/or about March 9 and 30, 2017 where Dlamini reportedly contravened Regulation 15 (1) (a) of the Teaching Service Regulations as read together with the Schools Guide and Regulation Procedures.

He is said to have failed, neglected and/or refused to submit official school records when requested for inspection by a team of inspectors commissioned to his school by the Regional Education Officer for Manzini. “The official record books you failed, neglected and/or refused to submit for inspection include a Class Register, Preparation Book and Scheme Book. By your conduct as aforementioned, which you maintained despite numerous reminders, you interfered in a material way with the efficient operation of the school to which you are posted in violation of the cited legal instruments,” reads the letter.
The third possible charge is that of disobedience and insolence.

Accused of fake test scores

Dlamini is accused of having contravened Regulation 15 (1) (c) of the Teaching Service Regulations in that on or about the year 2017 he allegedly refused, failed and/or neglected to abide by an instruction from the Regional Education Office requesting him to submit official school books for inspection, “despite that this instruction was communicated to you by the head teacher of your school and inspectors on numerous occasions”.
The fourth and last possible charge is that of bringing the teaching service into disrepute. Dlamini is alleged to have, on or about July 27, 2016, intentionally and falsely entered fictitious test scores for his pupils into the official mark register of the school knowing very well that he had actually not marked the pupils’ tests or exercise books.

“By doing so, you actually brought and/or conducted yourself in a way that was likely to bring the teaching service into serious disrepute in terms of Regulation 15 (1) (g) of the Teaching Service Regulations, 1983. The students in respect of whom you falsified their test scores by entering fictitious scores into the Mark Register and yet you had actually not marked their exercise and/or test books were Form 2B class (mathematics test) and Form 2A class (science test),” adds the letter.

Schools Manager Macanjana Motsa said Dlamini had not yet been charged but has been called upon to respond on certain complaints. “This also has nothing to do with the strike action. it was just a coincidence that it happened at this time,”she said.
A source within the education ministry concurred and said this was normal procedure and in accordance with the law to ask a teacher to respond on complaints regarding performance.
The SNAT president’s response to these charges is expected to reach the Under Secretary – Schools Manager, Macanjana Motsa’s office at the ministry of education and training ground floor office number 4, on or before Tuesday February 12, 2019.

‘Trumped up charges’ 

When contacted yesterday, Dlamini confirmed to have been served with the letter on Friday afternoon after the march, just when he was going into his office at the SNAT centre in Manzini. He said he received a call from the REO’s office telling him to come and get his ‘parcel’ from the Ministry of Education and Training headquarters. “These are trumped up charges that I was expecting any way. In fact, I was expecting more than this because I am aware of the real intention,” Dlamini said.

He claimed to have received information to the effect that there had been earlier moves to try and lay charges against him with the police for allegedly threatening teachers who would not be part of the strike action that was eventually stopped by the industrial court. “I think they failed with this. They are just trying to find ways to charge me. They are even bringing up 2016 issues, which happened when I was still chairperson of SNAT Manzini region,” he said.

Responding to the charge of absenteeism, Dlamini said this was baffling because he had sought permission from the head teacher before attending the SNAT meetings he went to. “I have called the head teacher, who was also surprised because he knows I asked for his permission,” the SNAT leader said. 

He said what was even more surprising was that on two of the days (Wednesday and Friday) he is accused of being absent, he had actually been called by the very ministry to attend ongoing negotiations.
Regarding the charge of disobedience and insolence, Dlamini said he refused to give school books to inspectors because he was not supposed to “hence I directed them to go and get such from the head teacher”.

Union bashing

On the other hand, SNAT Secretary General Sikelela Dlamini said the charges against the president were clandestine moves aimed at destabilising the union.
“The charges are trumped up and are aimed at de-motivating our participation in union activities. For instance he is charged with absenteeism. How can they expect him to be at school yet he was also expected to be at another gathering, which was an official SNAT meeting. He had even reported to the head teacher who is aware. If the head teacher is aware and released him with his permission, how then does the ministry say he was absent?” wondered the secretary general.

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