29 January 2021
Equal Education media statement: R431 million allegedly wasted by Gauteng Education Department on COVID-19 “deep cleaning” could have built five new schools! We demand accountability!
Equal Education (EE) is shocked and worried about reports by Maverick Citizen that the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) allegedly wasted R431 million on “deep cleaning” schools – even though this is not required by the COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) of the Department of Basic Education (DBE).
The allegations are especially disturbing because the budgets of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and provincial education departments (PEDs) are extremely tight, as the National Treasury is giving less and less money to the sector. Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s 2020 Supplementary Budget, gave no extra funding to the basic education sector for COVID-19 related expenses. The Treasury instead cut R2 billion of funding and shifted around money in the basic education budget to pay for COVID-19 essentials in schools such as water tankers, soap, sanitiser, mobile toilets and mobile classrooms.
It is critical that education departments spend their budgets in a responsible and transparent way! Wasteful spending is especially unacceptable right now when money is desperately needed for school infrastructure and for school meals. Decreases to the Education Infrastructure Grant (EIG) have resulted in more than 300 Gauteng school infrastructure projects – costing R223 million – being stopped or delayed. The National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) did not get any new money from the Treasury last year – even though the DBE has said that it might run out of money to provide food parcels.
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi owes the public answers to burning questions including:
- How was spending on “deep cleaning” authorised within the GDE, when it is not required by the DBE’s COVID-19 SOP?
- Was public money spent on “fogging”, despite the DBE’s COVID-19 SOP explicitly stating that fogging is not recommended?
- What circumstances explain why MEC Lesufi was “not aware” that such payments were made?
- What measures are being put in place to avoid similar cases of alleged wasteful spending in future?
- What are the details of the investigation within the GDE, including the timelines?
Investigations must be swift, and any reports must be made public.
Now more than ever, government needs to use public funds in an ethical and efficient manner. The struggle against inequality demands a capable and ethical government!
Note to editors: If quoting directly from this statement, please quote Equal Education.
To arrange a media interview, contact:Jay-Dee Cyster (Equal Education Communications Officer) firstname.lastname@example.org or 082 924 1352