Reports in today’s City Press raise yet more questions about the EduSolutions Limpopo textbooks tender, and Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga’s handling of the textbook crisis in the province (see report).
Minister Motshekga needs to clear up the confusion regarding the awarding of the tender to EduSolutions, and explain in clear terms why her department failed to act as soon as red flags were raised with it last year.
I will today be writing to Minister Motshekga to request that she urgently answers five key questions:
1. Did the awarding of the EduSolutions tender follow the correct processes?
Reports, plus statements by the previous administrator overseeing the Limpopo education department, Anis Karodia, and the current administrator, Mzwandile Matthews, suggest that the tender process was flawed for a range of reasons.
Chief among them is why, of the 23 tender bids that were received for the Limpopo textbooks deal, 22 were disqualified- leaving EduSolutions as the preferred bidder. A report by the Bid Evaluation Committee failed to provide an explanation of how points awarded in the tender evaluation process were calculated, and why the other 22 bids were disqualified.
2. Why were allegations of tender irregularities, reported by the then acting Chief Financial Officer of the Limpopo education department, Solly Tshitangano, not properly investigated?
As reported today, on 5 July 2011, Minister Motshekga’s office confirmed that a dossier of Mr Tshitangano’s concerns had been received, and that it was “receiving attention”. In addition, Mr Tshitangano’s dossier was sent to the Presidency in January 2011. However, it appears that both the Presidency and Minister Motshekga’s office failed to take any action at the time.
3. Why was a legal opinion, that was commissioned by the Department of Basic Education and provided to the State on 17 January 2012, ignored?
The opinion, compiled by Advocate P. Ellis, Senior Councel, states that complaints of irregularities regarding the awarding of the Limpopo textbooks tender were swept under the carpet, and that it would be “irresponsible for the National Government to continue to give effect to the contract without a proper investigation of the complaints”.
4. Why was Solly Tshitangano removed from his position in the Limpopo provincial education department?
Solly Tshitingano, the former Limpopo education department acting Chief Financial Officer, was reportedly ordered to award the controversial textbook contract despite the range of concerns he has raised about alleged irregularities. He was then subject to disciplinary proceedings and fired. Given the controversy that surrounds the awarding of the textbooks tender, Tshitingano’s suspension raises a number of questions, primarily whether he was removed from his position because he blew the whistle.
5. Why was the legal opinion that declared that the contract with EduSolutions is “probably invalid” for not complying with Section 217 of the Constitution, the Public Finance Management Act and the Treasury , ignored?
Minister Motshekga must explain to the South African people why she actively obstructed the former administrator overseeing the Limpopo education department, Anis Karodia, from implementing the recommendations of this state legal opinion.
If Minister Motshekga is to restore faith in her leadership of the Basic Education department, she must do the right thing, and provide answers to these questions.
The South African people, and in particular the learners of Limpopo, deserve to know the truth.
Statement issued by Annette Lovemore MP, DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education, July 1 2012