Company to fight for contract

2012-06-26 00:00

EDUSOLUTIONS — the company at the heart of the Limpopo textbook controversy — had a contract valued at between R500 million and R700 million in Limpopo over this year and next, court papers reveal.

The company hit the headlines this weekend with claims by Anis Karodia, the Education Department administrator appointed by the national department as part of its intervention in the province.

He claimed that he had been instructed by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to use EduSolutions — a company run by senior former government mandarins — after she blamed him publicly at a press conference on Friday for the textbook disaster there.

Thousands of Limpopo pupils are still without books despite a court order instructing the department to ensure they were delivered by last week.

Karodia returned to retirement after refusing to be deployed to the Eastern Cape after his Limpopo stint shortly after he terminated the contract with EduSolutions.

EduSolutions has now turned to the North Gauteng High Court to have its contract reinstated, and also to have the court forbid anyone else delivering the textbooks.

The court papers also reveal that Motshekga was personally involved in a meeting with EduSolutions representatives just weeks before Karodia terminated the contract with the company.

Karodia told City Press — and confirmed his comments to sister paper Beeld yesterday — that he had pushed for the contract with EduSolutions to be terminated from December and that he had raised this with the minister directly.

“She said, no, no, we have to buy from EduSolutions. We said it is immoral. She finally agreed that we could buy straight from publishers,” he said.

The contract with EduSolutions was initially valued at R320 million and raised alarm bells before it was signed in October 2010.

Media24 Investigations has revealed previously how Solly Tshitingano, the former Limpopo Education Department acting chief financial officer, blew the whistle on alleged irregularities, ended up being ordered to award the contract and was himself subject to disciplinary proceedings and fired.

An affidavit by the new Limpopo education administrator, Mzwandile Matthews, supports many of Karodia’s criticisms of EduSolutions, and shows how much money is at stake in the EduSolutions deal.

“The value of the disputed contract at stake here is in the region of R500 to R700 million for the rest of 2012 and 2013,” said Matthews in the his court papers.

He also revealed more details of concerns over the contract including the fact that 23 tenders were received for the deal, but that 22 were disqualified even though a report of the Bid Evaluation Committee contained “no motivation given how the points were calculated and why the other tenderers were disqualified”.

He said the contract had been awarded despite the concerns raised by Tshitangano about “potential fruitless and wasteful expenditure”.

He also said that the provincial Treasury had proposed that the entire tender process be reviewed following the “red flags” that were raised and that the contract was pushed through despite this.

Matthews also revealed that the EduSolutions probe was “at a very sensitive stage, and there is a criminal investigation being conducted at the same time”.

Moosa Ntimba, executive director of EduSolutions, denied in his court statements that EduSolutions had done anything to justify the contract being cut and said it was the victim of an agenda with “political undertones”.

Ntimba said EduSolutions had met directly with Mothekga on April 2, 2012 where she had given the company various assurances around the government’s intentions over its intervention.

She had told them that Karodia would not have been given instructions by national government to act against EduSolutions with “political undertones”.

On April 26, Karodia cut the contract.

Yesterday, Karodia said he didn’t know the details of the meeting between Motshekga and EduSolutions as he was excluded from the meeting.

“This is why I said this raised serious concerns because as head of administration I was not made aware of these meetings,” said Karodia.

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