Limpopo appalled by call for MEC's head

2012-07-17 22:37
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Johannesburg - The Limpopo education department has rejected calls for MEC Dickson Masemola to quit after a report on the late delivery of textbooks in the province.

"Never in this report, has the report made any determination or insinuated on the ability of the MEC for education, Hon Namane Dickson Masemola, to lead this department...," Masemola's spokesperson Pat Kgomo said in a statement.

The department was "appalled and disappointed" by a statement by Mark Heywood of NGO Section27, which had obtained a court order to force the department to deliver the textbooks.

Heywood said at a press conference on Tuesday: "It is very clear from this and other reports that the Limpopo education [department] is rotten, riven [rife] with corruption, and incapable of meeting its constitutional obligation to learners."

He also called for Masemola to be fired. This call has been echoed by the Democratic Alliance and trade union federation the Congress of SA Trade Unions.

'Not fit for office'

DA spokesperson Desiree van der Walt said: "The Metcalfe Report released [on Monday] on the textbooks debacle in Limpopo now places it beyond any doubt that Education MEC Mr Masemola is not fit for the office he holds."

Section27 had called the press conference to release the findings of an investigation into the textbook delivery situation by former education director general Mary Metcalfe.

She had been asked by Section27 and the department of basic education to be the independent authority who would verify the state of textbook delivery to schools serving Grades 1 to 3 and Grade 10 pupils in the province as at June 27, in compliance with a court order.

The court order was obtained by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies acting on behalf of Section27, Hanyani Thomo Secondary School, and Tondani Lydia Masiphephethu for the delivery of the books and a catch-up plan for Grade 10s.

At the time the order was granted on May 17, Judge Jody Kollapen in the North Gauteng High Court ruled that the failure by the national and provincial education departments to provide the textbooks was a violation of the right to a basic education, according to a summary of the case on Section27's website.

According to Metcalfe's report, the department had not delivered 98% of books by the deadline of June 27, as it had claimed.

The report found that Section27 believed the department's figures should have reflected the receipt of books by schools.

The department said its figure of 98% actually represented the number of textbooks dispatched to warehouses for delivery.

"Professor Metcalfe's report shows that on 27 June only 15% of books had been delivered to schools. By July 3 this had increased to 48%," Heywood said.

'Irresponsible statement'

"According to the report, by July 11, 22% of the sample schools were still awaiting textbooks."

Kgomo said the Limpopo education department welcomed the report made public as agreed by Section27 and the department of basic education.

The agreement and the court case was based on the fact that the Limpopo department of education was put under a Section 100 (1) (b) notice.

This took place last year after the Limpopo government had used up its overdraft of R7m and had tried to increase it to R1.7bn to pay salaries in November.

Kgomo said Metcalfe had not been appointed to investigate the Limpopo department of education but to verify the state of the delivery of textbooks to schools.

The report had made findings on that matter and other issues which would have contributed to the conclusions, and hence the department welcomed it, but it didn't make determinations on Masemola.

"Where is Mr Heywood deriving his statement from? What are other reports he has in his possession which led him to utter such [an] irresponsible statement. We reject Mr Heywood’s statement with the contempt it deserves," Kgomo said.

Masemola has gone on record saying he will co-operate with the provincial intervention task team.

Besides Metcalfe's report, two other investigations are underway.

A presidential task team and the Limpopo government are also conducting their own investigations into the situation, which had been accompanied by media reports of textbook dumping and irregular ordering and tender processes.

Comment was not immediately available from the office of the Limpopo premier.
- SAPA
Read more on:    section27  |  dickson masemola  |  mary metcalfe  |  polokwane  |  textbook saga  |  education
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