THE GLOVES are off between the KwaZulu -Natal Department of Education and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) over the alleged inflated prices for the purchase of JoJo water tanks dispatched to schools across the province.
The IFP, the official opposition in the legislature, is adamant that something went wrong in the procurement process of the tanks.
Last week, it emerged that the department forked out more than R28 000 for each JoJo tank, an amount the party says was exorbitant.
“This is unheard of when you consider that a normal JoJo tank would cost anything between R4000 and R 5000. The explanation by the department that the amount includes transportation and installation is insufficient,” explained Thembeni Madlopha- Mthethwa, party spokesperson on education.
Madlopha-Mthethwa said she had raised the issue with the MEC for Education Kwazi Mshengu before the matter became public but was ignored.
“I first brought the matter to his attention verbally but the MEC blatantly ignored me. I subsequently made a follow up call to the officials to his office to provide me with an explanation, again I got no satisfactory response,” said Madlopha-Mthethwa.
She said the party has since made a written communique through the legislature to compel the MEC to provide answers, including what criteria was used for the department to arrive at such an amount.
Apart from the alleged inflated prices on the purchase of water tanks, the department has been rocked by what appeared to be an organised syndicate using the reopening of schools to amass quick cash.
Last month, a large consignment containing personal protective equipment destined for Zululand, Umlazi and Pinetown mysteriously disappeared. The consignment apparently was worth several millions. A probe is currently underway to ascertain the details and facts surrounding the vanishing of the consignment.
Meanwhile, Education Union of South Africa (Eusa) has escalated the matter further calling for a forensic investigation into contracts awarded to supply sanitisers and PPE’s to various schools.
The union claims that the tenders were awarded without following due processes.
“We have a reason to believe that the rush to open schools was so that this corruption spree could take place. We have written to the office of the public protector demanding that a full scale investigation be conducted,” union spokesperson, Kabelo Mahlobogwane told Inside Metros.
He said the union also wanted the probe to shed light on how possible it was for 3500 tanks in KZN to cost R600 million.
“We have visited many schools in KZN and we witnessed for ourselves that schools were supplied with 250 litres JoJo tanks instead of the 500 or more litres that the department claimed to have supplied,” added Mahlobogwane.
The provincial department on the other confirmed that it had forked out R28 000 for each water tank but insists it had done things above board.
“Let’s me first clarify that the province is not responsible for the procurement process. The national department through the national treasury are responsible for this. The cost include delivery, installation and water, so in total it comes up to R 28 000,” said head of department, Dr Enoch Nzama.
(Compiled by Inside Education staff)