MINISTER of education Costas Kadis, having engaged in the most glaring case of nepotism in ensuring the secondment of a teacher with Disy connections to the Cyprus’ Permanent Representation to the EU, had the nerve to claim that all the correct procedures had been followed for the appointment. Nothing could be further from the truth, as a glance at the auditor-general’s report about the matter makes very clear.
Kadis had violated a host of procedures in his attempts, which began in June last year, to give a post at the permanent representation in Brussels to Despo Sergiou, a primary school teacher who was also a member of the Disy political bureau. These were all listed in the auditor-general’s report as in the letters he sent to the education ministry during this time, censuring its arbitrary decisions.
Her husband had been appointed to the permanent representation in March 2015 and Sergiou, not content to be with him on unpaid leave, used all her connections as a Disy official to also secure a paid post. Public employees at the representation are paid a double salary plus a host of allowances for working abroad. For a married couple a twin appointment means their family income is doubled overnight.
From June last year, the education minister had been doing everything he could to arrange a job for Sergiou in Brussels. First he asked that a second post was opened for an education attaché at the permanent representation, but this was vetoed by the foreign ministry which said there was no such need. In November he asked the finance ministry for the opening of another position at the education minister’s office and this was given to his favourite primary school teacher, who, quite scandalously, was living in Brussels and supposedly working from home. For three months, while being seconded to the minister’s office, she was in Brussels, collecting her salary while doing next to nothing – she attended eight EU committee meetings, according to the auditor general.
Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides considered this cheating of the state and Sergiou was obliged to return the salaries she had collected during the three months. Kadis had been an accessory to this cheating of the taxpayer. And as if this were not bad enough, when a position for an education attaché became vacant at the representation, Sergiou, predictably, got the job. There had been 11 applications but she was unanimously deemed the best candidate by the committee of Kadis yes-people that made the decision. Even then, Michaelides was not convinced that a fair procedure had been followed and demanded to see the CVs of all candidates, some of whom had much better qualifications.
Kadis succeeded in giving a job in Brussels to Sergiou, but he should be ashamed to claim that everything was done according to the book and with transparency. The exact opposite is true and if the code of behaviour for ministers, prepared by President Anastasiades, was not just a piece of paper, he would have been sacked by now.