EduSolutions got an upfront fee of ­­R19m

2013-05-12 14:01

EduSolutions, the company ­accused of bungling the delivery of textbooks in Limpopo last year, ­received an upfront fee of ­­R19?million before doing any work.

City Press can reveal that on ­December 7 2010, EduSolutions was paid the sum of R19?million in “management fees” – a direct contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.

When the company was paid, it had not delivered a single consignment of books.

EduSolutions signed the contract with the ­Limpopo department of ­education on October 18 that year.

The company’s Moosa Ntimba said EduSolutions was “paid for work done”, but would not say what the nature of that work was.

Ntimba said EduSolutions was not guilty of any wrongdoing.

City Press has obtained ­documents which reveal how ­education department officials seemingly ran roughshod over supply chain processes in ­awarding EduSolutions the R300?million textbook tender.

One of the documents is an ­affidavit deposed and signed by Thomas Mabitsi, a former member of the department’s bid adjudicating committee.

In his affidavit, Mabitsi reveals that, on July 26 2010, the ­committee conditionally approved ­EduSolutions’ tender. The conditions were that the ­department’s then acting chief ­financial officer, Solly Tshitangano, had to clarify:

»What would happen to staff working at the department’s book-distribution unit;

» What was going to happen to a number of new trucks the department had procured, at a cost of millions of rands, to deliver books to schools; and

»What would happen to warehouses the department had ­acquired to store books in the province before delivery.

In his affidavit, Mabitsi says ­Tshitangano appeared before the committee and said he was not aware of EduSolutions’ tender, that it was not competitive, and that it would lead to fruitless and wasteful expenditure if approved.

After Tshitangano’s presentation, the committee revoked its conditional approval of the bid and refused to sanction EduSolutions.

But Mabitsi said in his affidavit when the committee met again, secretary Peter Letsoalo ­announced that he had written an appointment letter and forwarded it to EduSolutions.

“Members present expressed surprise and I asked (Letsoalo) when did he release the letter. He replied by saying he released the letter on July 27, a day after our first meeting on the matter,” Mabitsi said in his affidavit.

A police officer close to an ­ongoing investigation into the EduSolutions tender confirmed that police had received a number of affidavits from education ­department ­officials.

Mabitsi refused to comment and referred all queries to the ­department. The Limpopo department of education’s spokesperson, Pat Kgomo, said it was “shocked by these allegations of blatant ­disregard of procedures”.

Kgomo said the allegations were serious and the department would take “appropriate action” against anyone found to have flouted supply chain policies and the Public Finance Management Act. But it will not act now, he said, since the matter was still under investigation by the Hawks.

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