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EUSA Calls For Ramaphosa To Probe Looting Of Basic Education Funds Meant To Fight COVID-19 At Schools

CHARLES MOLELE

THE Educators Union of South Africa (EUSA) has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa asking him to launch an investigation into the alleged looting of funds by Department of Basic Education (DBE) in the procurement of Jojo water tanks across the country.

In a letter written to Ramaphosa, EUSA’s spokesperson Scelo Bhengu accused Department of Basic Education of embezzling up to R600 million to procure water tanks as part of government’s strategy to fight COVID-19 pandemic at several schools in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

Rand Water was awarded a R600 million tender by the Department of Basic Education to supply water to schools in preparation for their reopening, which took place earlier this month. The union has also urged Ramaphosa to appoint a Commission of Inquiry into the allegations of fraud and corruption at DBE by July 2.

“The urgency of the matter is self-evident,” said Bhengu in a letter to Ramaphosa.

“The country is confronted by an invisible enemy, learners and teachers are losing their lives and more have been infected with the virus, which is the reason EUSA is calling for the establishment of the COVID-19 Commission of inquiry into funds allocated for the Department of Basic Education. Should the President decline this petition, we respectfully request that you furnish the reasons for your decision.”

EUSA said it suspected the element of fraud in the procurement because one 2000-litre of Jojo tank costs R1 995, 00 at the local market.

“The report of the KZN Department of Education, dated the 18th of June 2020, where the department says, it spent R28 000, 00 per 5000-litre water tank and R6 500 per hand washing station. EUSA believes that the abovementioned exorbitant prizes are way too high , since the local markets sell the same unit for +/- R5000,00,” according to Bhengu.

On Monday, Rand Water responded to allegations of corruption and alleged looting of funds after EUSA’s allegations that the Department of Basic Education did not follow due tender processes.

Rand Water’s spokesperson Teboho Joala said the company has noted with concern the misinformation quoted in the media about exaggerating the supplier costs for water tanks used during the intervention.

“The Implementation Protocol has a contractual value of R 600million to be payable by the DBE to Rand Water,” said Joala.

“To date the DBE has transferred an amount of R 200 million to Rand Water. The Implementation Protocol is for Rand Water to supply and install water tanks and to provide water-cutting services to the respective schools during the declared national disaster period. An important second phase of the intervention is the construction of sustainable water sources for the schools through borehole drilling and pumping, as well as the establishment of reticulation systems to the closest source of water wherever possible.

Addressing the fraud allegations in terms of cost per water tank, Joala said all the costs for the successful implementation of the intervention fell well within the market price range for the equipment and installation costs utilised for the intervention.

Rand Water has also dismissed a social media post on Twitter claiming the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education purchased water tankers for R170 000 each.

“The cost are as follows – the cost for the supply of a 5000 litre tank ranged between R 4 500.00 and R 5 400.00. The cost for the supply of a 10 000 litre tank ranged between R 9 000.00 and R 10 800.00,” he said.

“It is important to note that all the service providers that were contracted as part of this intervention are accredited vendors registered on the National Treasury’s Central Supplier Database (CSD). The CSD is a database of organisations, institutions and individuals who can provide goods and services to government. It is the single source of key supplier information for organs of state since April 2016, and it provides consolidated, accurate, up-to-date, complete and verified supplier information to procuring organs of state.”

Rand Water said as at 02 June 2020, more than 18 000 tanks and 1 299 tankers have been distributed countrywide.

(Compiled by Inside Education staff)

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