Ghost of Mayibuye Primary School construction scandal, back to haunt Gauteng Government

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Johnathan Paoli

ActionSA has welcomed the Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka’s recent report into the mismanaged construction of the Mayibuye Primary school.

Gauteng Provincial Caucus leader Funzi Ngobeni said on Thursday this case not only had taxpayer funds wasted, but also persistent delays caused by the negligence of the provincial government denied the Tembisa community access to the sorely-needed school for years.

Ngobeni said the poor project management by both the Department of Education and the Department of Infrastructure Development caused taxpayers to forfeit R10 million due to a nearly two-year delay in handing the site to the contractors.

He said the school serves as an example of the widespread mismanagement and incompetence across provincial government departments and agencies in Gauteng, which either fail to deliver projects or poorly manage them.

“This is exactly why ActionSA believes in stricter performance and consequence management practices in supply chain and procurement processes that hold under-performing and non-performing service providers accountable, and as made evident in this matter, that expectation must also extend to government departments and their officials involved in procurement and project management,” Ngobeni said.

The caucus leader said his party would closely monitor both departments’ compliance with the remedial actions suggested by the PP’s reports.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Gauteng similarly welcomed the public protector report, but said the remedies suggested were too light for the seriousness of the crimes.

Provincial Chair Nkululeko Dunga said harsher accountability was required in order to deter criminality and misconduct in public office.

“The EFF Gauteng asserts that true accountability for this incident, which directly impacted human rights of the people of Mayibuye informal settlement and Gauteng at large, requires those responsible for maladministration to face the consequences,” Dunga said.

Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng, however, has rejected the report and called for an official inquiry into the case.

DA Shadow MEC for Infrastructure Development Alan Fuchs said the ANC-led provincial government has backtracked on its decision to hold a formal inquiry and was protecting officials implicated.

Fuchs said the provincial legislature speaker approved an official inquiry into the matter, however, after the delay, no official inquiry was to take place, with the PP report only calling for preventative measures going forward.

“This is a clear indication that the government is undermining the institution that has a mandate to protect the interests of Gauteng residents,” Fuchs said.

The project was approved in August 2015 but spanned over eight years due to numerous administrative and technical incompetencies by the GDID and GDE under former MECs Nandi Mayathula-Khoza and Panyaza Lesufi, respectively.

According to a report released by the Public Protector of South Africa, procurement and supply chain procedures were violated during the contract awarded to Basic Blue/NEBAVEST for school construction.

Her report mandated that both departments adhere to and report on compliance, as well as implement strict monitoring mechanisms and cost control measures for all future projects to ensure that this negligent conduct is not repeated.

Additionally, the school was built atop an old sewer line without a wetland study, resulting in significant delays and additional costs.

After the contract was awarded, it took the contractor over a year to obtain site permission, resulting in R10 million in compensation.

Although construction was completed in 2017, the school remained unusable due to the hazardous wetlands.

The project was intended to accommodate over 2,000 learners from the Mayibuye Informal Settlement, Thembisa.

INSIDE EDUCATION

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