Here’s why Limpopo kids don’t have books

2012-05-12 16:48

Officials who were supposed to independently decide who should win Limpopo education tenders were told who to give them to by their colleagues.

A report by the department’s adminstrator, Dr Annis Karodia, who is part of government’s intervention team, was sent in March to Limpopo Education Department head Morebudi Thamaga.

The report, of which City Press has a copy, is contained in a court application by an NGO that is trying to force the education department to deliver textbooks in the province.

It paints a picture of mismanagement, abuse of public funds and open disdain for the national intervention.

“It has been observed by documentation and reports that the Bid Adjudication Committee (BAC) is not adequately trained and perhaps does not have the competencies to handle mammoth tenders,” wrote Karodia.

“Documents reveal that the BAC has been influenced by members of the staff who don’t sit on the BAC and other forces. It also appears that there is a dominant force of members within the BAC and they receive instructions and pronouncements from influential staff.”

Limpopo’s education department was one of the worst when the national department intervened last year, after it was revealed that the province had incurred billions in unauthorised debt.

But the crisis appears to have had little impact on the attitude of top Limpopo education officials.

“My observations and interactions with a host of senior managers leaves much to be desired and most of them treat their positions as mere jobs,” wrote Karodia.

He said that “no disciplinary charges have been laid against those who have been responsible for the financial morass and virtual collapse of the financial system within the Limpopo department of education”.

“There is no real oversight custody and there’s a lack of financial leadership.”

Karodia asked for unnecessary spending to be slashed, including the buying of groceries for senior managers at taxpayers’ expense.

“They buy breakfast cereal and a host of other food items. This will have to stop, and only coffee and tea will be allowed, and no biscuits must be purchased.”

Karodia proposed that head office fridges and microwaves be sent to poor schools.

The NGO Section27 took provincial and national education departments to the North Gauteng High Court earlier this month for failing to provide textbooks for Limpopo’s pupils.

The national education department claims it will have textbooks delivered by June 16, but Nikki Stein of Section27 said many promises were not kept.

Though Karodia refused to comment on the report, he admitted to having sent it.

In the report he also described district offices and circuit managers as “a law unto themselves”.

Stein said: “Many principals have been intimidated by circuit managers and have been told not to speak to anyone, especially Section27, about the problems they are experiencing in their schools. Section27 has gone as far as to lay a complaint with the Public Protector.”

Karodia also revealed that the department’s cellphone bills averaged more than R1 million a month and land line bills cost the same. One manager, he said, racked up bills of up to R5 000 a month, despite an R800 limit.

Both national and provincial education departments did not respond to requests for comment.

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