Angie’s big lie

2012-06-23 18:11

Motshekga never fired Karodia

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has been caught in a lie.

On Friday she told the country that she had fired the man she says was responsible for the Limpopo textbooks mess: former education administrator Anis Karodia.

“I told (Karodia) that if I come after Easter and find that books have not been delivered, I will (fire) him, which I did,” a defiant Motshekga said, in a warehouse filled with undistributed textbooks.

But she wasn’t telling the truth. City Press can reveal that Motshekga never fired Karodia.

In fact, in a glowing letter sent to him on May 14, the minister thanked Karodia for the “sterling work” he had done in Limpopo. Click here to read the letter.

And she trusted him enough to transfer him to the Eastern Cape where he was scheduled to join the education intervention team.

Karodia declined to be moved to the Eastern Cape and went back into retirement.

Last night, Motshekga said her correspondence with Karodia was “private and confidential and therefore I cannot disclose, confirm nor dispute the contents of the letter in your possession”.

On Friday there was nothing complimentary about the words Motshekga had for Karodia, whom she has made the fall guy for the textbook fiasco.

Motshekga has refused to take responsibility for the mess and step down.

More than six months into the school year, and despite a court order, pupils in the province are still waiting for textbooks.

She has now promised to deliver all outstanding books by Wednesday.

“He had undermined the complexity and magnitude of this project. The problem was compounded by the delays of the intervention team and previous administrator in implementing instructions jointly agreed.

“He knows very well why I released him . . . He had a plan and it has fallen flat,” Motshekga said on Friday.

The situation took another dire twist yesterday when it emerged that huge piles of textbooks were being shredded and dumped by a Limpopo contractor, allegedly on government orders.

Karodia, a former North West education department head, was called back from retirement and appointed the administrator in December.

An angry Karodia said yesterday: “Motshekga must apologise to me and speak the truth to the public. If not there will be serious legal action. She is lying to the public and there is no integrity among politicians. She must clear my name and speak the truth”.

At Friday’s press conference, Motshekga said while she agreed the textbook issue was a crisis, she would not consider resigning.

Motshekga said: “I did my part as early as February. I secured money from the Treasury and I gave instructions that books be ordered.”

Motshekga said it was “apparent that the initial planning of the delivery of textbooks was underestimated by the previous administrator.”

Karodia blamed Motshekga and her director-general Bobby Soobrayan.

“The contract with EduSolutions – the company that was contracted to source and deliver the books – was supposed to be terminated as soon as the intervention team arrived in Limpopo (in December), said Karodia, adding this didn’t happen.

“Myself and Monde Tom (chief administrator) raised the issue with her. 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.”

But Karodia said Soobrayan ­insisted that the orders for the books should be handled by the ­national department.

“After a month and a half, ­Soobrayan came down to Limpopo and said we should cancel the
EduSolutions contract. On that very same day I wrote the letter, we sent it and EduSolutions confirmed ­receiving it.”

Karodia said Soobrayan called him and instructed him to stop ­organising the deliveries of textbooks with suppliers and publishers. Karodia said Soobrayan would tell him which supplier to work with.

“I was surprised and shocked. But he gave me the go ahead and I lined the warehouse and I revived the book unit. While I was busy with this process, Angie brought the new administrator. I’m surprised that after having done all the work she is lying to the public,” an upset Karodia told City Press.

A North Gauteng High Court ­order compelled Motshekga to ­deliver the textbooks by last ­Friday.

Last Thursday, Motshekga said in Pretoria the department was “in time to meet the deadline for delivery to all schools”.

But it emerged this week that this was not the case.

Meanwhile, desperate non-governmental organisations are increasingly turning to the the courts to enforce the constitutional right to education.

» Soobrayan was embroiled in controversy in 2010 when it emerged that his fiancé’s mother was listed as a director of a holding company whose subsidiary won a R300-million tender to deliver school workbooks to all provinces.

Both Soobrayan and the department denied any wrongdoing at the time.

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