Right of reply – I have never used anyone as a shield

2012-07-07 08:48

After reading various articles about the textbook issue in Limpopo, I could not help but write this letter.

I have no doubt that not only am I capable of fulfilling my responsibilities, but with the current team in the national department and in provinces, we have steered this ship well in its troubled waters.

All learners in Limpopo from grades 1 to 9 received workbooks in January 2012. All grade 10, 11 and 12 learners in Limpopo received maths and science textbooks in January 2012.

Textbook use in the education system has increased by 65% since my tenure began.

I negotiated with the Shuttleworth Foundation to donate their intellectual property to the department to ensure that what would have cost government R285 per book now costs R33.

Education is an important tool for societal development, and society takes keen interest in it, so we treat it with respect and our utmost commitment. People who work closely with the department will testify to this fact.

The main point I want to respond to relates to what seems to be the media’s opinion that I have lied about removing Dr Anis Karodia from the Limpopo education department.

In a meeting requested by him in Johannesburg to discuss the matter, we agreed on the terms of his departure.

He insisted on certain terms for his peaceful, speedy departure; and I accepted them because I wanted to avoid protracted labour disputes.

All I needed at the time was to see him leave the province so I could appoint a new administrator.

The assertion that Dr Karodia is the “fall guy” is not true. At the press briefing held in Limpopo last month, I accepted responsibility for the textbook problem. I did not need a fall guy.

I actually explained some of the problems that led to this situation, which include that the province did not place book orders last year and this year because they did not have the money – a point the MEC confirmed.

This and many other factors – including legal challenges with the existing contract, government procurements processes and the intervention team’s failure to put more pressure into ensuring books were procured and sent to schools – were among the reasons I mentioned.

Dr Karodia is no longer head of the intervention team because of the instructions I gave that he be removed.

The letter he sent to media houses was part of the settlement agreed with him to deal with the concerns he raised with me about his professional integrity.

The agreement about another deployment in the department was also part of managing the process because of the financial implications his removal would have on him since he had been head-hunted and was made to suspend his consultancy business.

It is unfortunate that your editorial confirms the depiction City Press made of me – a petty, pathetic liar desperate to save her own skin at the expense of others.

The person written about in City Press cannot be the person I know myself to be.

I am at a stage where there are very few things I don’t know about myself, so City Press and Karodia could not be more wrong about me and the “stupid” things I’m capable of.

I have never, even in the face of great difficulty and personal danger to myself and people close to me, used anyone as a shield to save myself.

Instead, I have always tried to defend others. I have always endeavoured to treat others with respect and empathy.

I have always had the courage to accept and confront my shortcomings and take responsibility for the things I’ve done or failed to do.

I find it unfortunate and disingenuous of Dr Karodia to use private correspondence when he is fully aware of the reasons behind it and what it was meant to achieve without telling the full story.

I am ready to apologise to him, as he demands, if he can answer the following questions:

» Did he leave the Limpopo department voluntarily or was it upon my instructions to the director-general?

» Is he willing to also divulge truly and honestly our verbal communication with regards to his removal?

» Will he allow me to go public on the reasons I gave him for his removal, despite that we agreed not to, explaining why communication between us had to be cordial?

» Why is the department paying him while he is not in the office and there is an acting head of the intervention team in his place?

» Motshekga is minister of basic education

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