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MBONGWA FACES POSSIBLE 109 ABSENTEEISM CHARGES

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MANZINI - SNAT President Mbongwa Dlamini is facing 109 possible absenteeism charges and he has been given five days to explain why he should not be disciplined.

According to an impeccable source, this is contained in a letter from the Under Secretary (US)/Schools Manager in the Ministry of Education and Training, Lungelo Nhlengetfwa to the leader of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), which is dated October 5, 2022. However, the source said the letter was submitted at the SNAT leader’s school on Thursday and he was telephonically informed by the schools manager’s office to collect it from the head teacher. The source said when the unionist, who is a teacher at Moyeni High School at Mafutseni in the Manzini Region, arrived at his workplace on Thursday afternoon, he found that the head teacher was not there and he was advised to collect it the following day (yesterday).

Indeed, according to the source, yesterday the president of the teachers’ union went to his workplace, where he received the letter. He said the letter was addressed to him as a teacher of Moyeni High School. It is worth noting that the leader of SNAT started teaching at Moyeni High School in October 2021 and this was after he had been on suspension for  two years and four months, which was effected while he was a teacher at Mhubhe High School.

Misconduct

The source said in the letter, Nhlengetfwa informed Dlamini about alleged misconduct complaints against him and that they used the Teaching Service Regulations to inform him about the matter. “In the complaint of absenteeism, the schools manager said the SNAT leader was allegedly absent from work without permission from his immediate supervisor (head teacher) for a total of 109 days (from December 2021 to date (October 5, 2022)),” the source said. Thereafter, the source said Nhle- ngetfwa added that the teacher’s alleged absenteeism had supposedly affected the teaching and learning at his school and the pupils he was supposed to teach, to be specific.

Again, he said the schools manager, through the letter, informed the SNAT president that his supposed conduct purportedly showed disrespect to his immediate supervisor as he allegedly went absent without permission. Therefore, the source said the schools manager stated that in light of the aforementioned, the SNAT president should give reasons, in writing, why disciplinary action should not be taken against him. On top of that, he said Nhlengetfwa also told the unionist to show cause why he should not be called upon to pay back to government all monies he had received as salary while he was allegedly not rendering any service to the employer - during his supposed absence from duty. “The schools manager then informed the SNAT leader that his response should reach his office on or before October 12, 2022,” the source said.

Absenteeism

On the other hand, SNAT Secretary General Lot Vilakati confirmed on behalf of the national executive committee (NEC) that their president did receive a letter from the schools manager yesterday. He said the letter suggests that their leader was facing possible charges of absenteeism. However, he asked not to dwell much on the letter because they were yet to consult with their legal team. Nonetheless, the secretary general said as a union, they were aware where this issue was coming from and going to. He said they believed there was an onslaught on their leader and, by extension, the teachers’ association.

He said this was because it was not the first time their leader received a letter from the office of the schools manager, asking him to show cause why he should not be charged for alleged misconduct. He said one of the recent cases took place during the month of August 2022, where he was served with a letter by the office of the schools manager on claims that he had allegedly put government into disrepute and further promoted hatred or contempt towards it. He also added that the president was also summoned by the National Commissioner of Police, William Tsitsibala Dlamini, regarding the issue of ‘Commander’ whom he quoted when he was mandated by the union to advice teachers not to go to school as their safety was not guaranteed.

Confidential

On the other hand, the Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Education and Training, Bhekithemba Gama, said if the letter was written to the SNAT leader in his capacity as a teacher at Moyeni High School, his office would not discuss it with anyone else as such remained confidential between the department and the employee. Worth noting is that after being suspended for two years and four months (between May 2019 and August 2021), the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) lifted his suspension and transferred him from Mhubhe High School to Moyeni High School. In this matter, he was facing charges of alleged misconduct, which supposedly had to do with purported negligence and laziness to complete a scheme book and to prepare for lessons.

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