WELCOMING REMARKS FROM THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
Today marks eleven months of this Board’s toiling in office, as per the mandate given to it at the elective conference last year. I feel honoured and privileged to be part of this very hard-working group of leaders that have given me their maximum support, unreservedly. But members of the Central Executive Board (CEB) are not the only ones from whom I have received this amazing measure of support. In actual truth, the CEB as a whole, has received overwhelming support from leaders of NATU, staff and the general membership – individually and collectively. What we have seen over the past eleven months is that when all the structures of our organisation pull together, at all levels, with maximum effort there is nothing that we can fail to achieve. In this regard, one would be making a grievous mistake by forgetting to acknowledge the ever-supporting Director of our Teacher Development Institute, Prof. Imenda. May God the Almighty bless you all, abundantly!
It is indeed with honour to welcome the delegates to this historic Policy Conference, which is an outcome of our deliberations during the 104th National Conference, held last year in Durban, during the month of September. We collectively noted some gaps and shortcomings in our Constitution, which could be deliberately ‘wrongly’ interpreted by members wishing to advance their own wayward or sinister personal intentions, at the expense of the good order of the organisation. I am proud that last year’s Conference stood firm and resolved that we organise this platform to clearly identify and close those gaps amicably. NATU and her leaders proved that this is truly a professional organisation, imbued with the wisdom of Solomon. By taking the decision to convene this special Policy Conference, you saved NATU. So, well done, leaders!!
The current Board takes your contributions and conference resolutions very seriously; we are trying our level best to implement them as mandated by the most supreme policy and decision-making body of the Union. This was done in accordance with clause 8.4(c) of the NATU constitution, as amended. Your proposed amendments to the NATU Constitution have been taken very seriously – that is why we are gathered here today.
However, some of the proposed amendments could not stand for various reasons, including being inconsistent with, or even in contravention of, either the Republican Constitution or the South African Schools Act, Act 84 of 1996 – as amended. Some proposals lacked content, while others were baseless. We must note that a Constitution of any organisation must be in line with the country’s Constitution and all related legislation. Some of the proposals were unreasonable and practically impossible in nature. So, in as much as we appreciate democracy and any form of rights, it is more helpful when we concentrate more on our responsibilities. We should always be reminded that our mission, as NATU leaders, is to build the most professional and responsible teacher organisation. We are all well aware that today our country finds itself in the abyss of despair and desperation, especially for the youth, because of irresponsible democracy and rights. I pray that we don’t bring that to our precious organisation. Rather, we should ensure that our proposals are well thought through and have considered all possible consequences, before we get them into the NATU constitution. We must contribute positively and responsibly to produce a responsible NATU Constitution that will guide future members and leaders to take this Union to greater heights.
Please, note, that the envisaged NATU Constitution will not come into effect immediately at the conclusion of this Conference because it still needs to be taken to the Registrar of Societies for approval. So, to avoid a constitutional vacuum, we shall continue to use the ‘old’ one, pending the approval of the amended Constitution by the Registrar. Therefore, I humbly request you, dear leaders, to always remember that, as leaders, we need to emerge from our deliberations with great resolutions for the benefit of those who sent us to this conference. If it means we break in the morning, let it be so, because we have to prove that we are leaders and love NATU wholeheartedly. We need to deliberate, engage, and persuade each other soberly and in good faith because it might take NATU ten or more years to converge in a meeting of this nature – and it is costly.
May God give us the strength of Samson, patience of Job, and the courage of David for the love of the National Teachers’ Union.
With these few words, please, you are all welcome! Thank you.
NATU POLICY CONFERENCE ADOPTS PROGRESSIVE RESOLUTIONS
The National Teachers’ Union (NATU) pride herself for hosting a successful first ever National Policy Conference. This event, attended by more than 400 delegates took place at Imbizo Conference Centre in the Headquarters of NATU on the 27th and 28th July 2023, under the theme ‘Deepening Unity, Building a Solid Machinery for Growth and Development through the Renewal of Organisational Principles and Culture’.
On the first day, the conference was addressed by the Former Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa, Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Addressing the delegates, Mr Mogoeng shared his observations of the Cuban Education System with limited resources as effective as it produces high caliber of Doctors. He urged teachers to use the available resources to improve the education system and to be instruments of unity in families and communities. He lamented that the South African Education System adopted Alice Bailey’s 10-point plan, in-which point 2 states ‘reduce parental authority over the children’. This point stripped off parents and teachers their role in disciplining learners. Discipline must be institutionalized; teachers must partner with parents to instill discipline in our children.
“If South Africa is serious about building a progressive society, how can a 30% be a pass mark? How can someone who failed 70% of what he ought to have grasped, be regarded as successful?” Mogoeng asked. He labeled the 30% pass mark as a recipe for disaster and must be condemned with all contempt it deserves.
The Former NATU President, Mr Siphosethu Ngcobo applauded the current leadership for the first ever National Policy Conference. “In my 18 years as the President, we have never thought of the Policy Conference. We did a lot and brought in many innovations but for Policy Conference, NO. I congratulate all of you delegates for participating in this history-making, being part of the maiden Policy Conference of NATU,” said Mr Ngcobo.
On day 2, the Conference was addressed by the Chief Executive Officer of Umalusi, Dr Mafu Rakometsi. He explained that Umalusi quality assures the National Senior Certificate (NSC) Results. He commented that there are no dustbins in which to throw-in children who can’t achieve high pass marks. “The system is designed such that it caters for highfliers who want to pursue their studies at the Universities, middle/average performers who can go to the Universities of Technology and low performers (30%) who can be Tellers, Cleaners, etc.” Dr Rakometsi explained.
The General Secretary of the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) Mr Frikkie De Bruin workshopped delegates on the proposed retirement reforms. He explained that Pension Reforms are aimed at encouraging household savings and protect individuals from poverty when they retire.
Two Pot System (Savings Pot/ Retirement Pot)
At implementation, members will contribute one third of their contribution to the savings pot and the remainder will go to retirement pot. Savings pot will start seeding capital of the lesser of 10% or R25000 transferred from the vested pot. It is proposed that members can make only one withdrawal in any 12-month tax year, the minimum withdrawal amount is R2000. The draft bill is still in the consultation process and still has to go to Parliament and the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.
For the first time since Union inception, NATU delegates expressed their views in open discussions and debated motions for amendments to the Union Constitution. Thirty (30) motions were submitted by members, and they were individually discussed and voted for. The conference adopted electronic voting procedures to decide on motions.
Synopsis of Resolutions on Amendments to the Constitution
- School Building Representative (SBR), school-based union leader position will be filled through ballot and the term of office is extended from 1 year to 3 years in line with other structures. BEC members where the school is located will oversee the election of the SBR.
- The position of the General Secretary will be voted for. Delegates decided that the position is more political than administrative in nature and thus needs to be decided upon by the National Conference, triennially. This resolution repealed the position of the Executive Director that was last occupied by the late Mr Elliam Biyela.
- Establishment of Provincial Coordinators – Union does not have Provincial Executive Committees and will fill this vacuum by establishing coordinators to liaise with the provincial structures of the Department of Education.
- Decentralisation of Disciplinary Powers – Branches and Regions shall establish Ad-Hoc committees to deal with members’ conduct, investigate and settle disputes using the Union Code of Ethics.
- Submissions of Motions for Amendments to the Constitution – Members shall give the notice of 30 days to the General Secretary, of their intention to amend certain provisions of the Constitution. This must happen 30 days prior to the Conference.
- Annual General Meetings – Union shall have AGM’s to receive reports in respect of implementation of Union mandates and programmes including the Financial Report.
- The Conference re-affirmed the Union principle of Political and Religious non-alignment.
- NATU will form a Student Teachers wing as means of inducting students about the world of work in the Education Sector.
- Union Structures shall educate Members of the Union about Union Values, Ethos and Principles.
- NATU members to play a meaningful role in the School Governance.
- The scope of the NATU Death Benefit Scheme shall be extended to cover Extended Family Members.
- Promotion of employee wellness and healthy lifestyle through sports programmes.
- NATU as the voice of the segregated employees shall advocate for the permanent absorption of Grade R practitioners.
The Central Executive Board is satisfied with the progress made in transforming the Union to embrace Democratic Principles and Values including the responsiveness to the needs of dynamic members it has recently recruited. The fact that the union is now represented in all the 9 Provinces is an indication of the successful recruitment programmes that the Union continues to embark into.
“The Conference was a huge success, delegates deliberated freely and openly. They were excited that we have now innovated into electronic ballot system wherein they voted using their smartphones. Delegates welcomed the opportunity to participate in amending the Constitution of the Union, they felt more involved and that meant they are real leaders who are actively involved in decision-making. From now on, we will forward the Amended Constitution to the Registrar of the Department of Labour for registration, after which the Amended Constitution will have force and effect status.” Concluded NATU President Mr S.V. Malinga.