Coghlan staff ‘forced’ to sign secrecy agreements
By Vusumuzi Dube
The head of Coghlan Primary School in Bulawayo, Mrs Sijabulisiwe Nyathi, has reportedly been forcing teachers and ancillary staff members to sign Non-Disclosure and Secrecy Agreements in the wake of corruption allegations levelled against the school’s administration.
This followed a tender scam exposed by Sunday News at the school where some members of the School Development Committee (SDC), working with Mrs Nyathi were allegedly awarding themselves major supply tenders at the school.
So intense were the fights that the SDC chairperson, Mr Shelton Sithole walked out of an executive meeting in March and had since refused to attend any meetings, in protest over the manner in which the school is being run.
Mr Sithole had also attempted to freeze the school bank account citing irregularities.
This was, however, overturned by Mrs Nyathi together with the SDC vice-chairperson, Mr Learnmore Mugani.
In the latest development, it is alleged that after the publication of the exposé Mrs Nyathi went on a witch-hunting mission of the “leak” and also produced a non-disclosure and secrecy agreement meant to be signed by all teachers and ancillary staff members.
“Things have not been well at the school since the publication of that article, as staffers we have been accused of wanting the head dismissed from her position, further there is now this secrecy document which we are being made to sign, which we find awkward because what is there to hide honestly.
“However, our fear now is that if we refuse to sign the document, we will be targeted and accused of being the so-called clique that is after her dismissal, which is not true because all we have called for is transparency in the administration of the school,” said a teacher who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Mrs Nyathi is alleged to be working with the school’s acting teacher-in-charge, Mrs Denneth Ncube in imploring that everyone signs the non-disclosure agreements.
“What is queer is that it is now common knowledge at the school that the Public Service Commission had instructed the appointment of Mrs Nokuthula Nderezina as the substantive TIC but this has been delayed for over year.
“Mrs Nyathi and Mrs Ncube are now running the school as they will hence teachers are not performing to their best because there is now a culture of fear,” said another source.
Contacted for comment the SDC chairperson, Mr Sithole confirmed the development saying some staff members that were employed by the SDC had made a report to them to that effect.
He revealed that there were a number of anomalies at the school but they would soon implode as they were now in the public domain.
“I got a report from individuals that are directly employed by the SDC that the school head forced them to sign these non-disclosure and secrecy agreements of which the major question is in what jurisdiction these were signed.
“The situation has reached another level because the head has also approached some members of the SDC and got them to sign letters where they give her certain powers, which in itself is illegal,” said the SDC chairperson.
He said the Provincial Education Office had indicated that they were investigating the allegations that were levelled against the school administration.
“As we speak, the SDC chairperson stamp has since 2020 been locked in the head’s office and she is abusing it to make it look as if the chair is agreeable to certain correspondences. I decided not to use that stamp, therefore all the correspondences purported to have SDC chairperson stamp are fraudulent and I have asked her time and again with no positive response.
“A couple of weeks ago we were told the District Schools Inspector has been tasked to intervene in the matter but she is part of the problem because instead of being an impartial investigator she has appointed herself as the head’s advisor, we therefore call on the Ministry to appoint an impartial team to investigate these matters before things get out of hand,” said Mr Sithole.
Contacted for comment, Mrs Nyathi referred all questions to the District Schools Inspector saying she was the one legally allowed to speak on matters regarding the school.
Director of Information and Advocacy in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mr Taungana Ndoro said as the Ministry they were seized with the matter, revealing that Government auditors will be descending on the school tomorrow.
“As the Ministry we are seriously seized with that matter, we have actually put together an investigating team and they will be at the school on Monday to start physical investigations, using all the information at hand.
“We have also roped in Government auditors who will also be at the school on Monday. The outcome will not necessary come out during that week but we would like to assure parents and Coghlan School authorities that we will expedite the matter to reduce the levels of anxiety on all those involved,” said Mr Ndoro. The Sunday News