‘Let us see tender documents’

2012-07-20 00:00

THE Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal has sent a letter to Education MEC Senzo Mchunu seeking the release of all EduSolutions tender documents.

The DA claims that KZN is the only province that refused to release details of the EduSolutions tender documents.

EduSolutions co-ordinates and manages the procurement and distribution of textbooks and stationery for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 school academic years for public schools and Grade Rs.

The letter, titled “Re: Edusolutions Contract”, was sent to the MEC’s office yesterday afternoon.

DA leader in KZN Sizwe Mchunu said the Limpopo textbook saga had rung alarm bells, and that people were entitled to know whether the tender process was fair.

“We believe that EduSolutions is making hundreds of millions of rands out of the KZN Education Department that otherwise could be used to buy additional books, appoint teachers or fix schools,” the letter read.

The DA said EduSolutions was able to pocket discounts by negotiating with stationery and book suppliers on behalf of the provincial department.

“Tender documents in our possession relating to EduSolutions’ dealings in other provinces show that the company was pocketing 70% of all supplier discounts in Limpopo before the contract was cancelled.

“In Mpumalanga they are currently pocketing 60% of these discounts and in Gauteng 55%,” reads the letter.

Mchunu said the KZN contract was negotiated on the same lines as contracts in Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

“Respectfully, if you fail to do so, sir, it will only enhance the perception that a handful of connected tenderpreneurs are profiting while KZN children continue to go without a quality education,” the letter concluded.

Mchunu told The Witness that there were indications that some schools had not received textbooks.

“This jeopardises the rendering of service to schools.”

The DA said it wanted transparency.

The MEC told The Witness that he had not received or read any letter from the DA.

He had only heard about the letter when contacted by journalists.

He did not understand what was “so special” about the tender contract, which he said was awarded in 2010.

The MEC said the DA was present when the tender was awarded.

He admitted there were pupils without books who were sharing with classmates.

“KZN hasn’t reached the level where each child in each grade and each subject has a book. This is a matter of concern and a subject of our focus, and this was due to budget constraints, and not a supplier.”

The MEC said textbooks were not the only factor; there was also learner teacher support material (LTSM).

For LTSM alone, the department needed R2 billion.

“We’re at no crisis level, but it doesn’t mean we’ve reached the level of perfection,” the MEC told The Witness.

He said his department was working hard to make sure it bypassed the problem of lack of resources and limitations.

The MEC described the Limpopo textbook saga as “a development that is undesirable that must be avoided at all costs”.

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