Motshekga refuses to pay teacher salaries and ignores court verdict

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga
Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga


South Africa department of education is once again embroiled in legal battles following non payment of teacher salaries. The Department of Basic Education has ignored a court verdict to pay Eastern Cape temporary teachers. The education department is investing millions on education and trying to attract more individual into the teaching sector, however, they are not prepared to pay teachers what is due to them. What does this say about the leadership of the South African government and their commitment to eduction in South Africa.

Following the court verdict and the education department’s total disregard for the judicial system, 1000 temporary teachers are calling for their salaries to be paid in the amount of R596 million. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has conceded to the accusation against her department and admitted that the department owes millions in unpaid salaries. 70% of temporary teachers in Eastern Cape have not been paid.

Motshekga has publicly admitted that 233  teachers that were appointed in January were still owed R258 million, and a further 1217 teacher appointed in April were owed a further R337m in unpaid salaries.

Instead of following the courts verdict and respecting the judicial system of the country, Motshekga has decided to set up a special task team to help speed up the payment of teacher salaries. Even-though the courts ordered the education department to pay 27 teacher their salaries and what is due to them within 5 days, the department has ignored the court decision.

The teachers, who are represented by the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) have confirmed that nothing has been done and no cheques have been received following the court order. The LRC have confirmed that numerous teachers have not been paid and that the education department has breached their contractual duties to pay teachers what is owed to them. The LRC is also seeking systematic relief in oder to deal with this problem.

THe LRC stated that “The latest court order is one of the many efforts by the LRC to address the widespread problem of non-payment of teachers throughout the Eastern Cape.”  The court order to pay 27 teachers was issued by the courts following an out of court agreement between LRC and the Department of education. In terms of the court order, the teachers have to option to ask the court for relief if their salaries are not paid within 7 days.

Department of Basic Education avoiding this embarrassing issue and  Panyaza Lesufi Motshekga’s spokesman, could not be reached to clarify the department stance on the court order or to answer any questions as to why the South African government if flagrantly disregarding court orders and failing to live up their contractual obligation.

The refusal of the education department to pay salaries and respect their contractual obligations is one of many legal challenges faced by the education department from pressure groups or legal entities that fight for pupils’ right to quality education. Last month, Equal Education reached an out of court settlement following the legal dispute with regard to schools norms and standards. According to the settlement, the court ordered the Education Department to publish minimum uniform norms and standards for school infrastructure for comments no later than September 12.

Last year Motshekga faced a bitter battle the NGO Section27 over it inept actions and failure to deliver textbooks to schools in Limpopo. The high court eventually ordered the the department to deliver textbooks to the province. Motshekga’s recently tried to force matric exam markers to take competency test, hover, this was scrapped. I only guess for this its that the department cannot request competency test given the incompetent actions of the education department.

Perhaps students, teachers and business should lobby for government salaries to be placed on hold until such time that those individuals, groups and departments in the governments sector undertake to perform their duties and do what they were hired to do.

Given the actions (or non action) of the Education Department and South African over the past few years, it is no wonder reports issued by the Council on Higher Education condemn the education system in South Africa and see no remedies to fix the system in the foreseeable future.

Like Motshekga’s plans to institute competency exams, perhaps government employees, heads of departments, ministers and even the President should be forced to do the same and base their salaries on the results.


For comments and feedback contact:

The Presidency and Jacob Zuma – CLICK HERE or

Department of Basic Education and Minister Angie Motshekga – CLICK HERE


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